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When Doctor’s Misbehave; Medical Malpractice Suits Can Result

Thumbnail image for steth2.jpgDr. Kevin Miller, of Bangor is no longer able to prescribe controlled substances unless his patient is in a nursing or long-term care facility, or is under treatment for metastatic cancer. The Bangor Daily News reports that the State Licensing Board issued the disciplinary action due to the doctor’s liberal narcotics prescriptions, inadequate medical records, and lack of appropriate examinations. And if that isn’t bad enough, the paper has also reported on several other cases of “naughty” medical professionals.

Two healthcare providers have recently been disciplined for inappropriate relationships with clients. A Neurologist, James Iannazzi, has had his medical license suspended as a result. At the moment, he will not be allowed to see patients in his Bangor office. This comes after acknowledgment of a personal affair with a patient, where the patient alleges that an insurance company was billed for one such liaison having occurred at the office.

A separate case brought before the board, resulted in a physician’s assistant from Skowhegan, relinquishing his license to practice after complaints were filed. Neil Robertson’s misconduct included a sexual relationship with a patient as well as admitted marijuana use with that individual. In a second complaint filed against Robertson, it was alleged that assistance was not offered to a patient who suffered a fall in the office and that aid from a relative was rebuked by the physician’s aid. Findings showed improper documentation of the incident within medical files.

A third article references yet another case, concerning a former Bangor Psychologist who was recently sentenced to jail for defrauding MaineCare. It seems that he, too, had inappropriate relations with a client and billed MaineCare for his services. Restitution in the amount of $14,806.52 was awarded by trial to the insurance provider.

These are examples of gross misconduct and thankfully, are relatively rare occurrences within the medical profession, although one may wonder, given the context of recent articles. As distasteful as the subject is, unfortunately, instances as described above, do occur across all professions affecting individuals of all ages.

According to the American Medical Association: “Sexual conduct that occurs concurrent with the patient-physician relationship constitutes sexual misconduct” and thereby violates the medical code of ethics, even if the relationship is consensual.

Healthcare professionals are held to a high moral standard, befitting their occupation. Such examples of impropriety demean the medical profession as a whole, diminish the reputation of office medical staff, compromise the doctor’s objectivity and effectiveness in the business setting, potentially contribute to the inequitable treatment of the practice client base, and finally, expose the patient involved to undue exploitation and emotional harm. The AMA points out that “a healthy client-patient relationship is essential for sound medical treatment.”

In an effort to avoid even the perception of unethical conduct, medical professionals are advised against participating in personal relationships with individuals who may have a strong influence over the actual patient’s health and welfare.

While the Licensing Board may review misconduct cases and issue warnings, fines, or licensing penalties to a practitioner; it does not offer restitution to the claimant. Therefore, further civil or criminal litigation claims may arise from such events.

We put an immense amount of faith and trust upon our healthcare professionals each day; we trust their informed decisions and level of skill to provide restorative or corrective healing to improve our lives: physically and emotionally. And while we know that we cannot expect perfection – individuals err, our bodies fail, our mastery of science is incomplete – we do expect a standard of care consistent within the profession. Medical malpractice claims can manifest when a healthcare practitioner fails to provide a level of care consistent with the standards established by the medical profession as a whole, and that failure; by act or omission, causes harm to the patient as a result.

Medical malpractice can be evidenced in numerous ways. Here are but a few examples:

Missed or delayed diagnosis Anesthesia errors Lack of informed consent Surgical injuries Orthopedic surgical injuries
Spinal cord injuries Birth injuries Improperly prescribed or dispensed medications; or doses thereof Nursing home abuse and patient neglect Unreasonable conduct of a physician or health care provider
Failure to administer appropriate care
Complaints against physicians can be filed to the Board of Licensure within our state. The board will investigate the allegations and determine if disciplinary action is warranted. However, they will not compensate the individual or family involved, so it may become necessary to consult an attorney.

There are times when the incidence of malpractice is blatantly apparent, and other times when it is more obscure. The effects of malpractice may be minimal, or dire.

If you suspect that you, or a family member, have been the harmed by a trusted medical professional during the course of care within the state of Maine, you may be the victim of medical malpractice and be entitled to receive compensation. To learn more about your rights, contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC for a free consultation.

Our litigation team offers nearly 30 years of cumulative trial experience and a Board Certified, Registered Nurse with 15 years of hands on medical experience to lend expertise in preparing your personal injury or medical malpractice case for settlement or trial. We can be reached toll free (888) 596-1099 or by completing our confidential online consultation form.

Additional Resources:
Board: Bangor doctor improperly prescribed pain drugs, by Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News
Improper relationships with patients lead to loss of medical licenses for two practitioners, by Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News
Ex-Bangor psychologist gets 4 months for sex acts with client, billing sessions to MaineCare, by Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News

http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/code-medical-ethics/814a.pdf

http://www.docboard.org/me/discipline/ConsumersGuide.pdf
http://www.docboard.org/me/online_services/dw_complaint_email.htm

Photo Credit: mconner, morguefile