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Investigation Reveals Only 1 in 7 Doctors Face Consequences for Malpractice

doctor with folded armsWe trust healthcare physicians with our lives. The vast majority of them want to do everything in their power for the good of their patients. However, there are a few out there that cut corners or fail to pay attention to their work. When physicians don’t follow protocol or fail to meet the level of care expected in their medical field, patients can develop severe injuries, illnesses, or even die.

Victims of medical malpractice deserve legal justice. Unfortunately, most doctors avoid consequences for their negligence. An investigation by CBS revealed that six out of seven doctors who are named in malpractice suits do not face any sort of disciplinary action.

If you don’t really think this is fair, you’re in good company. After all, car accident victims can hold reckless drivers responsible for causing their injuries. Don’t medical malpractice victims deserve the same justice?

State licensing boards are responsible for issuing medical licenses and revoking them if physicians break the rules. It is alarming that so many state boards just seem to look the other way in these instances. And it even happens right here in Indianapolis.

CBS Investigates Malpractice Claims in Indianapolis

Regina Bruce had a spinal surgery in 2008 after a car accident, conducted by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Svabek. Her left leg was paralyzed during surgery.

A few years before Bruce’s surgery, Thomas Cox underwent a spinal fusion conducted by Dr. Svabek. Mid-procedure, Dr. Svabek got sick and had to halt the surgery. Cox was left with nerve damage.

Both Bruce and Cox came to settlements with Svabek. Neither fully recovered from their injuries and turned to opioids to manage their lifelong pain. As of 2021, both Bruce and Cox are now deceased.

Dr. Svabek has settled more medical malpractice lawsuits than any other orthopedic surgeon in Indiana. State and court records showed that he lost surgical privileges at two Indiana hospitals, who cited concerns about his transparency and inadequate care standards. Furthermore, Dr. Svabek lied about losing privileges to the Indiana Medical Board.

But even through all of this, the Indiana Medical Board did not take away his license to practice medicine.

However, the Federation of State Medical Boards asserts that the Indiana Medical Board may not have necessarily done anything wrong.
“State medical boards have the authority to take disciplinary action if the medical practice act is violated,” the Federation of State Medical Boards told CBS. “A medical malpractice claim does not necessarily mean there was a violation of a medical practice act or grounds for a finding of unprofessional conduct. It’s important to note that not all medical malpractice settlements infer that malpractice occurred.”

In other words, just because a medical malpractice claim is filed does not mean that medical malpractice actually occurred. This is why contacting an Indiana medical malpractice attorney is so important. Malpractice cases are long and complicated and you should make sure you have grounds for a malpractice claim before getting started.

State Medical Boards Fail Malpractice Victims

Many believe that the Federation of State Medical Boards’ attitude indicates that the doctors and board members are more interested in protecting doctors than they are in persecuting doctors who have done wrong.

“We have almost like this cloud of secrecy around the medical profession,” Tina Bell told CBS. Bell is an attorney with Christie Farrell Lee & Bell and has worked with us on medical malpractice cases. She has also been involved in medical malpractice cases against Dr. Svabek.

Even after all the allegations and lawsuits, the Indiana Medical Board did not revoke Dr. Svabek’s license. However, he has since relocated to Florida. But that’s not where the story ends. The Florida Board of Health has records that indicate that Dr. Svabek has been fined and sanctioned three times since moving there.

Dr. Svabek is just one example of how the system fails victims of medical malpractice by not properly disciplining negligent physicians. Unless a medical board is willing to strip these physicians of their certifications, then they can move to another area and keep practicing medicine. There could be many stories like Dr. Svabek’s out there.

Help from an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney

There is still a lot of work to be done, but change is possible. At Hensley Legal Group, we will keep pushing for justice and for negligent physicians to be held accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one sought medical attention and suspect medical malpractice occurred, you should absolutely pursue legal action. But you don’t have to go through this alone. The attorneys at Hensley Legal Group care about your case and want to fight for your rights. Please get in touch with us right away by calling us or chatting with us online, so we can schedule a free consultation about your case.