Letter to the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners from Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

February 10, 2003

Texas State Board of Medical Examiners
P.O. Box 2018
Austin, TX 78768-2018

Dear Board Members:

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group promotes research-based, system-wide changes in health care policy and acts as a watchdog over drugs, medical devices, doctors, hospitals and occupational health. Public Citizen is an independent voice for citizens in the halls of power and accepts no government or corporate funding.

On behalf of the 3,900 members of Public Citizen in Texas, I am requesting that the Board immediately initiate investigations into the professional competency of all physicians who have lost or settled four or more medical malpractice cases but who have never been subject to discipline by the state’s medical board.

Of the 322 physicians in Texas who have made four or more payments to patients for malpractice since 1990, only 50 have been disciplined during that period – fewer than one out of six. Texas’ overall rate of discipline for malpracticing doctors places it in the bottom half of the states. If medical boards, quite aware of which doctors in their states have had multiple malpractice payouts against them, are unwilling or unable to seriously discipline them, these doctors will likely continue to cause preventable deaths and injuries.

The following are descriptions gleaned from the public-use file of the National Practitioner Data Bank of 45 doctors with six or more malpractice payments who are licensed in Texas, none of whom had been disciplined by the state as of September 2002. While the identities of these physicians are withheld from the public, you, the Board, are permitted to order the non-redacted files from NPDB.

  • Physician Number 35749 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2001 involving lack of informed consent to perform surgery, delay in diagnosis, four incidents of improper performance of surgery, two incidents wherein there were surgical problems, delay in treatment, and improper management of surgical patient. The damages add up to $347,250.
  • Physician Number 35809 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2001 involving improper performance of treatment, three incidents of failure to diagnose, two incidents of failure to treat, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, and unnecessary surgery. The damages add up to $1,527,500.
  • Physician Number 35821 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2000 involving five incidents of failure to diagnose, wrong diagnosis, and failure to treat. The damages add up to $274,000.
  • Physician Number 35846 settled nine malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2002 involving failure to diagnose, seven incidents of improper management of course of treatment, one treatment-related problem, and failure to supervise treatment. The damages add up to $1,995,000.
  • Physician Number 36190 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 1999 involving two incidents wherein there were surgical problems, improper management of surgical patient, lack of informed consent to perform surgery, one diagnosis problem, and two incidents wherein there were treatment problems. The damages add up to $740,000.
  • Physician Number 36243 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1990 and 1999 involving improper performance of surgery, one treatment problem, an anesthesia problem, a surgical problem, improper performance of surgery, failure to diagnose, and improper management of medication regimen. The damages add up to $1,640,000.
  • Physician Number 36270 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2002 involving two incidents of wrong diagnosis, surgery on the wrong body part, two surgery-related problems, a treatment problem, improper performance of treatment, and unnecessary surgery. The damages add up to $2,925,000.
  • Physician Number 36273 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2001 (one of which occurred in Florida). The incidents involved surgery on the wrong body part, failure to contain infection control, a surgery-related problem, improper management of surgical patient, failure to treat, improper management of course of treatment, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $1,301,250.
  • Physician Number 36361 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2001 involving failure to treat a patient, four incidents of improper performance of surgery, unnecessary surgery, a surgery-related problem, and a miscellaneous incident. The damages add up to $2,571,250.
  • Physician Number 36396 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2002 involving failure to diagnose, two incidents of delay in diagnosis, improperly performed C-section, failure to treat fetal distress, delay in delivery: induction or surgery, improperly managed labor, and an obstetrics-related problem. The damages add up to $1,132,500.
  • Physician Number 36436 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2000 involving failure to diagnose, wrong diagnosis, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, improper management of surgical patient, a surgery-related problem, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $578,500.
  • Physician Number 36548 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1994 and 2000 involving improper management of course of treatment, lack of informed consent for treatment, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, and two surgery-related problems. The damages add up to $225,000.
  • Physician Number 36593 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1998 involving five treatment-related problems, failure to diagnose, and a diagnosis-related problem. The damages add up to $597,750.
  • Physician Number 36610 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2001 involving three surgery-related problems, unnecessary surgery, delay in diagnosis, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $1,443,750.
  • Physician Number 36722 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1997 involving improper performance of surgery, delay in diagnosis, failure to perform surgery, wrongful birth, delay in delivery: induction or surgery, an obstetrics-related problem, improper management of course of treatment, and delay in treatment. The damages add up to $1,279,500.
  • Physician Number 36876 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2000 involving a treatment-related problem, two surgery-related problems, delay in diagnosis, delay in surgery, three incidents of improper management of surgical patient, and improper positioning of surgical patient. The damages add up to $2,466,250.
  • Physician Number 37019 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2001 involving six incidents of improper performance of surgery, unnecessary surgery, improper positioning of surgical patient, wrong treatment performed, and two incidents of failure to obtain consent for surgery. The damages add up to $319,000.
  • Physician Number 37177 settled 13 malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2002 involving a problem with diagnosis, a treatment-related problem, three incidents of improper management of surgical patient, two surgery-related problems, a retained foreign body in a surgical patient, four incidents of improper performance of surgery, an obstetrics-related problem, failure to perform surgery, and improper performance of treatment. The damages add up to $1,402,500.
  • Physician Number 37234 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1993 and 1999 involving the wrong medication ordered, three incidents of improper performance of surgery, a surgery-related problem, delay in treatment, and failure to maintain infection control. The damages add up to $1,697,500.
  • Physician Number 37299 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2000 involving failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, a diagnosis-related problem, a surgery-related problem, improper management of course of treatment, failure to treat, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $545,500.
  • Physician Number 37312 settled 14 malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1994 involving six surgery-related problems, eight incidents of improper performance of surgery, and two incidents of improper positioning of surgical patient. The damages add up to $880,000.
  • Physician Number 37383 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 1996 involving a surgery-related problem, two treatment-related problems, improper performance of treatment, improper management of course of treatment, wrong diagnosis, improper performance of surgery, and unnecessary surgery. The damages add up to $945,000.
  • Physician Number 37388 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 1998 involving two incidents of improper performance of surgery, two incidents of retained foreign bodies in the surgical patients, a surgery-related problem, and two treatment-related problems. The damages add up to $780,000.
  • Physician Number 37725 settled nine malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 1998 involving three incidents of failure to diagnose, failure to treat fetal distress, two obstetrics-related problems, failure to manage pregnancy, and two incidents of improperly performed vaginal delivery. The damages add up to $524,000.
  • Physician Number 37746 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1993 and 1997 involving delay in diagnosis, improper management of medication regime, two incidents of failure to treat fetal distress, improper management of course of treatment, and failure to refer or seek consultation for treatment. The damages add up to $470,000.
  • Physician Number 37830 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1990 and 1996 involving failure to diagnose, three incidents of unnecessary surgery, two surgery-related problems, failure to obtain consent for surgery, improper performance of surgery, and a treatment-related incident. The damages add up to $1,142,000.
  • Physician Number 37888 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1996 involving two incidents of failure to diagnose, two incidents of failure to perform surgery, a retained foreign body in a surgical patient, improper performance of surgery, delay in delivery: induction or surgery, delay in treatment of identified fetal distress, and an obstetrics-related problem. The damages add up to $1,022,500.
  • Physician Number 37941 settled 26 malpractice lawsuits between 1994 and 2001 involving four incidents of retained foreign bodies in surgical patients, 14 incidents of improper performance of surgery, four incidents of wrong treatment performed, two incidents of failure to diagnose, two treatment-related problems, and two monitoring-related incidents. The damages add up to $4,040,000.
  • Physician Number 38016 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2000 involving a retained foreign body in a surgical patient, improper performance of surgery, a surgery-related incident, improperly managed labor, failure to treat fetal distress, an obstetrics-related problem, and improper course of management of treatment. The damages add up to $890,000.
  • Physician Number 38048 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 2001 involving failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, a retained foreign body in a surgical patient, failure to treat fetal distress, and an obstetrics-related problem. The damages add up to $400,000.
  • Physician Number 38205 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1992 and 1999 involving delay in diagnosis, wrong diagnosis, a diagnosis-related problem, an improper medication administration-related incident, improper course of management of treatment, two incidents of delay in treatment, and two treatment-related incidents. The damages add up to $1,567,500.
  • Physician Number 38544 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1994 and 2002 involving two incidents of failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, improper performance of surgery, an obstetrics-related problem, and failure to treat. The damages add up to $365,000.
  • Physician Number 38595 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2000 involving two incidents of wrong diagnosis, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, a retained foreign body in a surgical patient, wrong medication administered, unnecessary surgery, and improper management of course of treatment. The damages add up to $753,750.
  • Physician Number 54450 settled eight malpractice lawsuits between 1994 and 2000 involving six surgery-related problems, failure to perform surgery, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $176,250.
  • Physician Number 55398 settled seven malpractice lawsuits in 1994 involving seven incidents of improper management of course of treatment, a treatment-related problem, and one miscellaneous incident. The damages add up to $142,000.
  • Physician Number 68177settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1995 and 1997 involving three surgery-related problems, surgery on the wrong body part, improper performance of surgery, and two treatment-related problems. The damages add up to $2,782,500.
  • Physician Number 78532 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1999 involving three surgery-related problems, improper management of course of treatment, two incidents of improper performance of surgery, improper management of surgical patient, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $388,750.
  • Physician Number 78741 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1995 and 1996 involving three incidents of unnecessary treatment, two incidents of improper management of course of treatment, failure to supervise treatment, and failure to follow institutional policy. The damages add up to $400,000.
  • Physician Number 86465 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1996 and 2002 involving improperly performed vaginal delivery, three obstetrics-related problems, improper choice of delivery method, and a surgery-related problem. The damages add up to $845,000.
  • Physician Number 91331 settled nine malpractice lawsuits between 1996 and 2002 involving five surgery-related problems, improper performance of surgery, surgery on the wrong body part, failure to order appropriate medication, improper management of medication regime, and a treatment-related problem. The damages add up to $745,750.
  • Physician Number 93659 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1996 and 2001 involving a diagnosis-related problem, two incidents of failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, and two incidents of failure to treat. The damages add up to $1,352,500.
  • Physician Number 94478 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 1996 and 1998 involving two incidents of improper management of course of treatment, a treatment-related problem, and three miscellaneous incidents. The damages add up to $892,750.
  • Physician Number 119501 settled 10 malpractice lawsuits in 1998 involving 10 anesthesia-related problems. The damages add up to $975,000.
  • Physician Number 162558 settled six malpractice lawsuits between 2000 and 2002 involving five incidents of failure to diagnose and one incident of wrong diagnosis. The damages add up to $1,450,000.
  • Physician Number 170235 settled seven malpractice lawsuits between 2001 and 2002 involving failure to diagnose, four incidents of improper medication technique, improper performance of treatment, and improper use of equipment. The damages add up to $353,500.

Your prompt attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group