A doctor in another state recently agreed to surrender his license to practice medicine in that state and also agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty.
The doctor had been accused of misdiagnosing hundreds of pediatric patients over the course of 10 years. He would frequently misdiagnose children with epilepsy, a condition which causes seizures. He also was accused of misdiagnosing children as having attention deficit disorder or autism spectrum disorder.
According to reports, the doctor, who specialized in pediatric neurology, misdiagnosed epilepsy based on his improper reading of a test called an electroencephalogram. In some cases, the doctor apparently did not perform this test at all.
Then end result was that young patients often took medicine at the doctor’s directive which turned out at best to be unhelpful and at worst to hurt the patient. Additionally, the doctor’s misdiagnosis of epilepsy meant that the patient’s actual ailment went untreated.
While it is good that regulators in one state recognized the doctor could not be trusted to practice medicine, it is important to recognize that licensing actions against doctors are not the same ad medical malpractice lawsuits.
For one, regulators are unlikely to intervene when a doctor makes an isolated mistake, even if the doctor was careless in doing so. The unique thing about this case is that the doctor made hundreds of bad diagnoses, to the point where some accused him of outright fraud.
Moreover, in this case, the $5,000 fine will go to the state. Obviously, it is hardly enough to cover a patient’s damages.
The best way for a Seattle patient who suffers from a misdiagnosis to recover compensation is by filing a medical malpractice case in the appropriate court in Washington.