Dr. Sidney Wolfe's letter to the Arkansas State Medical Board

January 28, 2003

Peggy Pryor Cryer
Arkansas State Medical Board
2100 Riverfront Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72202

Dear Ms. Cryer:

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 400 members of Public Citizen in Arkansas, I am requesting that the Board initiate investigations into the professional competency of eight 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 153 physicians in Arkansas who have made two or more payments to patients for malpractice since 1990, only 15 have been disciplined - fewer than one out of 10. Moreover, only 14 percent of those doctors with three or more payments have been disciplined by the board. 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 eight doctors with multiple malpractice payments who are licensed in Arkansas, 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 986 settled four malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 1993 involving two incidents of surgery, one medication administration related incident, and failure to obtain consent/lack of informed consent. The damages add up to $287,500.
  • Physician Number 1074 settled four malpractice lawsuits between 1991 and 2001 involving a retained foreign body, three incidents of improper performance of surgery, and improper management of surgical patient. The damages add up to $912,500.
  • Physician Number 59909 had eight malpractice actions filed against him or her, at least five of which were settled (three were in Arkansas, and five were in Puerto Rico). The actions took place between 1994 and 1998 and involved improper management of surgical patient, treatment, failure to obtain consent/lack of informed consent, unnecessary surgery, surgery, two incidents of failure to diagnose, improper performance of surgery, and delay in treatment. The damages add up to $977,500.
  • Physician Number 107780 settled four malpractice lawsuits between 1997 and 2000 including diagnosis, failure to diagnose, and two incidents of failure to treat. The damages add up to $1,002,500.
  • Physician Number 122749 settled four malpractice lawsuits and lost two malpractice judgments between 1998 and 2002 involving failure to medicate, two incidents of failure to obtain consent/lack of informed consent, surgery, retained foreign body, and improper performance of surgery. The damages add up to $675,000.
  • Physician Number 907 had four malpractice actions filed against him or her, at least two of which were settled (three took place in Colorado, and one took place in Arkansas). The actions took place between 1992 and 1999 and involved improper performance of surgery, improper management of surgical patient, three incidents of surgery, and delay in treatment. The damages add up to $1,002,500.
  • Physician Number 59454 had four malpractice actions filed against him or her, at least three of which were settled (all four incidents took place in Texas, although the physician was licensed in Arkansas). The actions took place between 1994 and 1999 and involved improper management of surgical patient, anesthesia – failure to complete patient assessment, two incidents of anesthesia, and surgery. The damages add up to $322,500.
  • Physician Number 14147 settled five malpractice lawsuits between 1993 and 1999 (all incidents took place in Kansas, although the physician was licensed in Arkansas). The cases involved three incidents of improper performance of surgery, treatment, improper management of surgical patient, and surgery. The damages add up to $1,265,000.

Your prompt attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Sidney Wolfe, M.D.
Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

PCF URL: 
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