A woman who went to a neurosurgeon in Kansas to have a pool of blood removed from near her brain never went home again. Instead, she was left paralyzed on one side and wasn't able to talk as a result of a brain injury that occurred during the operation. She never regained consciousness and died after several days. Her family filed a wrongful death suit. Her surgeon, Dr. Robert Tenny, was very familiar with lawsuits, having been sued at least 16 times previously for alleged mistakes. The family's $1 million settlement is the most recent part of the $3.7 million that has been paid over the last 20 years on behalf of Dr. Tenny. Had the victim or her family been aware of the doctor's previous suits, they could have selected a different physician and avoided this tragedy.
Most doctors will be sued at least once during their practicing years, but to be sued repeatedly or have multiple misconduct issues is unusual. Indiana doctor Mark Weinberg has been sued more than 300 times by patients alleging he performed unnecessary surgeries and billed them for services he never provided. One of his victims died in 2004 after he misdiagnosed her stage four throat cancer as nasal polyps and a deviated septum. The victim's family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Weinberg and was awarded $13 million.
In Kentucky, several doctors have been accused of and disciplined for sexual misconduct. Most recently Dr. Ashok Alur was arrested for sexually abusing a patient in his office. Even after his arrest, and two more victims coming forth, Dr. Alur is still able to practice in his Crestwood office as long as a chaperone is present. Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer Charles Miller, of Miller & Falkner, who represented one of the victims, states, "It's a threat to the community at large to allow someone who's admitted to sodomizing a patient to continue practicing medicine under any circumstances."
So how does one know if a doctor has been sued for malpractice or accused of misconduct? Information available to the public varies by state.
When malpractice payments are made, the insurance companies and doctors involved have to tell the state's medical board, but this information is not available to the public in most states. The information is also kept by the National Practitioner Data Bank, which is a federal agency. Records from this data bank are available to the public, but they do not contain doctors' names or other identifying information.
In Kentucky, records of medical malpractice lawsuits can be obtained from the courts, but settlements of cases are confidential. Potential patients also have access to information regarding disciplinary action taken against doctors for misconduct, but most Kentuckians are unaware of this. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure website can be searched by the doctor's name, license number, county or practice area. Actions by the most recent board are available online, and past actions can be obtained with a written request.
If you have questions regarding physician misconduct or think you may have been a victim of medical malpractice, please contact Kentucky lawyers Charles Miller or Rheanne Falkner of Miller & Falkner.
Doctors with Histories of Alleged Malpractice Often Go Undisciplined; Kansas City Star; Alan Bavley; September 3, 2011
Patients Unhappy with Dr. Mark Weinberger's Plea Deal; Larry Yellen; Fox News; April 18, 2011
Disciplined Doctors Keep Licenses Despite Sexual Misconduct; WHAS; Adam Walser; November 19, 2010