Doctors CAN Survive Board Complaints from Hell. Our Founder and CEO is an MD, JD. Medical Justice Protects Doctors from Meritless Board Complaints.
Ask doctors what they fear the most and almost all will say: “Malpractice lawsuits.” But another challenge poses even more risk to their careers: A complaint to a state Medical Board.
Filing a complaint requires no more from an aggrieved patient or family member penning their beef and finding a postage stamp or tapping the “Send” button.
Understanding the process and appropriately protecting yourself against a Board complaint is vital for all practicing physicians.
Many doctors assume medical malpractice insurance covers legal defense for Board complaints. That coverage is likely shallow. $25,000 from a rider, if even available, will be eaten up quickly.
When the Board receives a complaint, it is first screened for “jurisdiction” (meaning, can the Board even adjudicate the complaint) and then assigned a priority for investigation. Complaints presenting the possibility of imminent patient harm, such as egregious departures from the standard of care, sexual misconduct, and substance abuse, receive immediate attention and may result in summary license suspension.
Rulings in the physician’s favor are not publicized – the entire matter is closed internally and never informs the public. Disciplinary actions are publicized and viewable by anyone through the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) Physician Data Center. An adverse Board action and any penumbral effects on matters such as hospital privileges are also reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
There is a significant amount of risk along the path with what should be a straightforward process, which poses significant minefields for doctors. During these critical junctures, it pays to have the advice of seasoned experts informing your decisions. Be careful about “winging” it alone. We cannot stress this point enough. A Board complaint is not the kiss of death if properly managed. That’s what Medical Justice is all about. We can help you.
Medical Justice has developed strategies for responding to medical board complaints professionally and completely – our objective is to guide you towards a favorable outcome. Use the form below to schedule a free consultation with our Executive Team. We urge quick action – these slots fill quickly.
Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD
Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Jeff Segal, MD, JD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, meritless Board complaints, issues specific to the Data Bank, and internet-based assaults on reputation.
Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.
We stand by our member doctors with guidance and grit.
The case studies below demonstrate our effectiveness.
Case Study #1: The Smoking Gun
The defendant in this case is a plan member and a spine surgeon who was sued for issues related to placement of spinal instrumentation for a cervical fracture. The patient had no neurological deficits and the instrumentation was placed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The expert witness in this case is a spinal surgeon who had been previously disciplined by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He also claimed to be a member of the North American Spine Society, though they had no record of his ever having been a member. The Expert had never used the instrumentation in question, nor could he produce any literature to support his criticism.
The medical malpractice case was dismissed several weeks prior to trial. The expert witness resigned from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons after the Congress began investigating claims related to frivolous testimony.
The Medical Licensing Board reviewed this case related to misstatement of credentials / professional affiliations.
The Central Judiciary Committee of the American College of Surgeons ruled that the expert witness testimony violated its bylaws, and he was formally disciplined by that organization.
Case Study #2: Unqualified Opinion, Anyone?
Eleven physicians and a hospital were sued individually for care rendered to a patient with acute fulminant pancreatitis. This medical malpractice case had been terminated prior to purchase of Medical Justice membership.
The expert hired to testify in this medical malpractice case was a neurologist. However, pancreatitis is a condition that is generally not treated by neurologists and is outside their traditional domain of expertise. The “expert” claimed that all parties were negligent, and he signed an affidavit stating that the patient died of hypoxic encephalopathy (H.E.), or lack of oxygen to the brain. However, all humans ultimately die from H.E. regardless of their medical condition. The testimony helped plaintiff’s counsel extract nuisance settlements from each physician.
Because of the egregious content of the affidavit, a complaint was prepared and sent to the American Academy of Neurology and the Florida Board of Medicine. The expert resigned his membership while the complaint was pending.
Case Study #3: Diminishing Returns
A physician in Florida was sued for a missed diagnosis. He was not a member of Medical Justice at the time he was sued.
Early in the case, testimony from the plaintiff’s expert suggested a strong case of obvious negligence and plaintiff’s counsel placed an initial value on the case of $300,000.
The physician purchased PE Shield from Medical Justice and plaintiff’s counsel was immediately informed of this membership. The plaintiff’s expert subsequently “adjusted” his previous testimony, now suggesting the case had “no merit” and demonstrated “no negligence.” Plaintiff’s counsel agreed to dismiss the case and walk away for $5,000.
A second letter was sent to plaintiff’s counsel to remind the parties that without an expert opinion supporting negligence, there was NO CASE. Counsel dismissed the medical malpractice case “with prejudice” and the case was dropped permanently! – This was a major WIN for our Medical Justice plan member.
Case Study #4: Beware of Dog
The defendant was a general surgeon who was not a plan member at the time the medical malpractice suit was filed. He presented to Medical Justice with an open case. This physician was being sued for failure to “fish out” a small gallstone that had dropped during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The allegation was that the stone would serve as a nidus for infection.
Though several years had elapsed, and no infection had developed, the plaintiff’s expert stated that infection was highly likely. Following this early testimony, plan member joined Medical Justice, and plaintiff’s counsel was notified of his membership.
The expert subsequently changed his story at trial to suggest that now that an additional two years had passed, the risk of infection was quite low. However, his initial testimony, regarding the “high risk of infection” was also delivered many years after the original surgery. According to defense counsel, this change in testimony was instrumental in the case being decided for the defense. Our plan member stated that having Medical Justice membership was like having a big sign that says “Beware of Dog.”