Posted by Bill Sandweg on 18 November 2019.
Doctors win 85% to 90% of all medical malpractice trials in Arizona. The same figures apply pretty much across the United States. Doctors win cases even when there is strong evidence of negligence on their part. The most likely reason for these statistics is that juries hold doctors in high repute and do not want to believe that they make mistakes that kill and injure patients. While often that respect is justified, doctors are just like everyone else. Some are good, dedicated, caring people. Some are greedy crooks who will cheat as necessary to bring in the money they believe they deserve. A cursory look at the news will show the presence of the crooks in white lab coats.
In just the first weeks of last month alone, a number of doctors were caught with their hands in the till. If you think that these are the only ones, you have an unreasonably high opinion of the ability of law enforcement to catch these people. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
On October 8, a Texarkana, Arkansas doctor was arrested for doing his part to facilitate the abuse of narcotic medications by prescribing opiates for no good reason. That is for no good reason other than he made a lot of money doing it. Sadly, many of the pills flooding our communities are the result of prescriptions written by doctors who are running “pill mills” or who are just careless about their prescriptions. Either way, they make money while their neighbors die as a result.
The day before, on October 7, a Houston jury convicted a doctor for her participation in a $16 million Medicare fraud scheme. She ran a medical clinic and, together with her co-conspirators, signed up people and claimed to Medicare that they needed home health services. Either the services were not medically necessary or were never delivered or both. The scheme went on for over four years before federal law enforcement authorities were able to put a stop to it.
On October 4, it was announced by federal authorities that a group of California eye doctors had paid over $6.5 million to settle claims that they had defrauded public health care programs by charging for unnecessary examinations and had violated various regulations.
On October 3, a West Virginia doctor pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances for no valid medical reason. In other words, like his Texarkana colleague, he was writing phony prescriptions for opioid medications.
I point out these few examples, not to vilify doctors, but to point out that they are human like all the rest of us. They make mistakes like all of the rest of us. They are not gods. Patients deserve a level playing field when they go to trial against a doctor.