Statement from Public Citizen on Patient Safety in the Medical Industry

1. What is being done right now to hold doctors and hospitals responsible for medical negligence towards a patient?

A variety of tools are available to hold doctors and hospitals responsible for medical negligence, but not enough is being done to protect patients by state medical boards and medical institutions that employ doctors. Too many patients are being victimized by dangerous practitioners. Right now, patients can file complaints with state medical boards (although the quality of oversight varies from state to state) or take them to court (often is difficult and costly).

States and medical institutions must address malpractice where it starts: with problem doctors. Our research has shown that a small percentage of doctors are responsible for a large percentage of malpractice. Key steps: 1) State medical boards and employers should ensure that dangerous doctors aren’t in a position to harm patients by taking away their medical licenses or imposing other sanctions. 2) Information in the National Practitioner Data Bank – which houses detailed information about doctor misconduct but which keeps the information hidden – should be open to the public; and 3) There should be better communication and coordination between states, medical boards, and employers, when doctors move from state to state, to ensure that problem doctors can’t just move, hang their shingle elsewhere and continue to practice.

2. What can patients do to protect themselves against ‘bad doctors’?

Patients can check out their doctors by going to the website of their state medical board and entering the doctor’s name. Most medical board websites have a way to find out whether the doctor has been sanctioned for misconduct and, for some states, whether the doctor has been convicted of a felony or had malpractice payouts. Additionally, the sites may provide background information about the doctor, including other states where he or she worked. If your doctor worked in another state, check out that state’s medical board website as well.

3. What steps is your organization, Public Citizen, engaged in that will help either educate or reform current laws on patient safety in the medical industry?

Public Citizen continues to highlight flaws in the system and call for reforms. For instance, we sued to close a loophole that allows physicians and other healthcare providers to avoid having medical malpractice payments that are made on their behalf reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. The loophole deprives hospitals and state licensing boards of vital information needed to protect patient health and safety. We have done research showing that state medical boards are failing to protect the public from many doctors already known to have committed sexual misconduct. We also have called out the federal government for breaking its own policy requiring all malpractice payments to be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Recommendations provided by Dr. Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

7 Essential Items to Have for a Pandemic Date, According to a Relationship Expert

Celebrity divorce attorney and relationship expert Vikki Ziegler says you should treat COVID-19 like an STD.

Just when we thought relationships and dating could not get any more complicated, the pandemic took this matter to a whole new level. Celebrity divorce attorney and relationship expert, Vikki Ziegler receives an abundance of questions about this exact topic, every single day. Her fans and followers message her via her social media channels, in the hopes of finding the right way to safely date during these times. So, if this topic has crossed your mind, rest assured you are not alone.

For those who used to "swipe left and right," on the regular, Vikki recommends slowing down for the time being, no matter what type of antibacterial wipes are being used between your swipes. Serial dating during COVID-19 can be dangerous and also very selfish at the same time. This might be a good time to either take a break from dating altogether, or invest more time in one relationship and being monogamous, at least for right now. "Everyone should treat COVID-19 as they do an STD, while dating and practice safe EVERYTHING, even beyond just intimacy," says Ziegler. "This will simplify the process and make the do's and don'ts much less complex."

She recommends that new partners keep the dating virtual prior to both being tested and or having the vaccine. "Screendating" can still be both fun and safe at the same time. She suggests that you still wear your favorite new dress, get that fresh haircut or blowout and act as though you are still going out, even if the date is happening in the privacy of your own home. She has suggested some ideas such as virtual movie nights, happy hours, cooking classes, and the most obvious, the at-home and virtual dining date. This would entail both partners ordering food to each of their respective homes, but using the same menu as if they were dining in person.

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