The Difference between a Medical Malpractice case and Board action

Perhaps you’ve read news articles about doctors receiving disciplinary actions by the medical board in the state where they practice.  Maybe you have thought that they would also be liable for malpractice?   That is not the case. First, discipline by board;s is unusual and the vast majority of doctor are good at what they do.  This is essentuially the same in any profession. There are only a few “bad apples” Board actions are taken against physicians in an attempt to protect the public..  They typically follow a formal complaint made by a patient, a subsequent investigation into the incident and a hearing.  The main purpose of these actions is to protect the public from further errors on the part of a doctor who may need additional training.  There is a punishment aspect of these board decisions that can involve suspension or revocation of a doctor’s license. Medical Malpractice is different. It is a claim by the injured person asking a court to award money to make them “whole” again.  It is the process that a person has to use to recover for mistakes that caused them some harm.  In many ways it is similar to a car accident only more complex.  In a car accident, someone usually is at fault and caused the accident.  The accident injured someone and then the injured person has a right to recover for their injuries in court.  The big difference with medical malpractice is that the cases are harder to prove and there are fewer cases. Another difference between the two is the existence of a public record.  With a board finding and decision there will be a public record of the decision that the public can access.  Malpractice cases will most often settle in some way.  If and when they settle there is no real public record of the settlement.  No record of how much or why, just a notation in the court records that the case is closed.  This is sometimes called a “non-suit”.