Texas Physician Prescribes Deadly Cocktail of Drugs
Jennifer Chaney complained of neck pain to her doctor, Dr. Greggory K. Phillips, and he prescribed her several painkillers. Sadly, Chaney died of a toxic overdose in her sleep on her 17th wedding anniversary. She left behind three children, in addition to her beloved husband and mother. But it wasn’t the first time that Dr. Phillips had faced sanctions for mismanaging medications; in fact, another woman had died under his care just years before from a deadly combination of psychiatric and pain medications. Board members had fined Dr. Phillips thousands of dollars over the years, restricted his prescription powers and put his license on probation with special monitoring of his practice. However, they failed to do the one thing that would’ve saved Chaney’s life–made him stop practicing medicine.
Thousands of Doctors Continue Practicing With Egregious Patient Care Histories
Dr. Phillips story isn’t unusual, according to reports from the USA Today. The USA Today reviewed state and federal records from several sources and discovered that doctors that were disciplined or banned by hospitals often keep clean licenses, meaning they faced no fines and were never hit with a restriction, suspension or revocation of their license. What’s worse is that even the worst case of medical malpractice often go unpunished, with records indicating that fewer than 1 in 5 doctors who made payments to resolve medical malpractice claims faced any sort of licensure action by state medical boards. This failure on the part of medical boards to act in the face of serious medical malpractice is what leads to unnecessary deaths.
Problem Dates Back to 1980s
The problem isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Concerns about medical boards date back to 1986, when the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the boards issued “strikingly few disciplinary actions”. Followup studies called for improvements, but these were quickly laid to the wayside when the Justice Department announced in the 1990s that an inspector general would have no jurisdiction over state boards not funded or regulated by the government. State lawmakers, like Senator Chuck Grassley (IA-R), disagree with this sentiment and say that without proper oversight, patients get hurt and taxpayers pay the price. I couldn’t agree more, as leaving medical boards in charge of their own oversight is tantamount to a vigilante crew attempting to clean up the wild west of medicine–it isn’t worth the lives of innocent patients. You can read a more detailed account of USA Today’s investigation here.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.