Occasionally, we get a phone call from a distressed patient who just found out their doctor has a history of medical malpractice. This can be scary for anyone, particularly if you have been treated by that doctor for a long time. The idea can send your mind racing, “what if this negligent doctor hurt me?”
Medical malpractice is scary. The details of most medical malpractice cases are enough to frighten any patient. In certain situations, you would expect doctors to disclose their history of malpractice. However, doctors are not required to inform patients of their prior medical malpractice verdicts.
How to Find a Doctor’s Record of Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that your doctor has a history of malpractice, do your research. Visit the Virginia Board of Medicine’s website and search their database of doctors. This can give you detailed information of a doctor’s history, including past lawsuits or disciplinary issues.
On this website, use the search tool to look up doctors by their last names and location. There are instructions on the page to help you with your search. Once you find a doctor’s record, you can click on the “Paid Claims” tab to see if the doctor has settled a malpractice claim in the last 10 years.
You can also see any orders or notices the doctor has received by looking at the “Proceedings, Actions, or Convictions” tab of their record. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find anything, as this information is generally self-reported and not verified by the Virginia Board of Medicine.
This information can be helpful, but it is incomplete. The details of the claims are limited and they don’t include the amount the doctor paid or the nature of the malpractice claim. It is a good idea to do additional research after finding this information on your doctor’s record to get more details.
Does a Doctor Lose His or Her License after a Medical Malpractice Claim?
No, a doctor doesn't automatically lose his or her license to practice after a medical malpractice lawsuit. While it depends on the details of the case, some doctors will get a “probationary” period after a medical malpractice verdict.
Probation, for doctors, generally means there are restrictions on their licenses. In some cases, doctors on probation are only allowed to practice once a week. Sometimes, they are not allowed to do certain procedures. It all depends on what the Board of Medicine decides for their particular case.
On the Virginia Board of Medicine’s website, you can search for the details of any decision to restrict a doctor’s license to practice. However, you have to search by date, so you need to know the approximate time a doctor’s probation began to find the details.
My Doctor Has a History of Malpractice, Can I File a Lawsuit?
The fact that your doctor has a history of medical malpractice is not enough to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against him or her. To file a medical malpractice claim in Virginia, the following must be true for your case:
- A doctor must have deviated from the standard of care
- You must have sustained an injury
- Your injuries must be serious or permanent
If your doctor deviated from the standard of care and you sustained an injury, but the injury was not serious and healed quickly, it would cost more to pursue the case than you can recover in court.
A doctor’s history of medical malpractice does not help your case. In previous medical malpractice cases, testimony about a prior medical malpractice has been thrown out of court. If your medical malpractice case goes to trial, the judge will limit the information presented to the jury to the details of your case. A doctor’s history of malpractice is generally omitted from evidence.