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State finally getting serious about prosecuting bad docs

President's Message

by John M. Gallagher Jr., Esq.


John M. Gallagher, a partner in the Media law firm of Gallagher, Schoenfeld, Surkin & Chupein, P.C., is the new President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

Increase in disciplinary actions against negligent doctors benefits patients and all caring, hard-working health care professionals

(5/4/2023) -- Last week, the State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine announced that in 2004, the number of disciplinary actions taken against Pennsylvania physicians increased by almost 50 percent over 2003, from 242 to 362. Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés said the increase in disciplinary actions last year can be attributed to the state’s increased emphasis on “prosecuting unprofessional and incompetent behavior by doctors.”  [Philadelphia Business Journal, 4/26/05]

Well it’s about time.

For years, Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in monitoring and disciplining health care providers. According to a new analysis by Public Citizen, with the increase in doctor discipline, Pennsylvania’s rate of disciplinary actions per 1,000 physicians increased from 45th in the nation to 36th. It’s still not where it should be, but it’s an improvement.

All of this is welcome news to the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who are hurt or killed annually by a preventable medical error or a health care provider’s negligence. As has been widely reported, four percent of doctors in Pennsylvania are responsible for more than 50 percent of malpractice claims. Increased scrutiny of preventable errors and the physicians who cause them should improve health care for every Pennsylvania resident.

We all know, from personal and professional experience, that most Pennsylvania doctors are hard working, professional and talented. But there are some that are not. Those who exhibit “unprofessional and incompetent behavior” need to be policed.  It appears Pennsylvania has finally gotten serious about doing so.


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