A news investigation into medical malpractice claims in Massachusetts has found that doctors who settle claims are not being held accountable by the state board.
The I-Team at WBZ-TV reviewed the records of more than 16,000 doctors in Massachusetts and learned that 654 had settled one or more medical malpractice claims in the past 10 years. Just six doctors – or fewer than one percent – had been sanctioned by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.
Of the physicians who settled, 14 paid to resolve three medical malpractice claims during the last decade. The cases were all settled with no admission of wrongdoing by the doctors.
In a broadcast interview, Stancel Riley, executive director of the Board of Registration in Medicine, told WBZ-TV that the board relies on complaints from patients, hospitals and law enforcement – not medical malpractice lawsuits.
“A malpractice suit is not proof of substandard care,” Riley said. “It’s an allegation.”
The Board of Registration in Medicine has sanctioned an average of 51 doctors per year since 2006.
Consumers can check their doctor’s safety record on their own. The Board of Registration in Medicine offers a free online database called Physician Profiles.
The database provides data on how long a physician has been licensed to practice in Massachusetts, their education and how many medical malpractice payments they have made in the past 10 years. It also informs consumers on whether a physician has had any criminal convictions, board discipline or hospital discipline over the past 10 years.
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