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Do doctors lose their license after a medical malpractice lawsuit?

May 17, 2017

No, a medical malpractice lawsuit does not directly affect the status of a doctor’s medical license. Even if the doctor is determined liable for negligence, revoking a license is a different process determined outside of civil court.

Why File a Malpractice Lawsuit if Physicians Can Still Practice?

A medical malpractice lawsuit is typically not intended to revoke a medical license. Instead, the lawsuit is intended to receive compensation for any harm or injuries caused by negligence.

When Do Doctors Lose Their License?

In all likelihood, doctors will lose their license to practice after 2 determinations: if they are deemed a threat to society, or if their behavior is so negligent and reckless that it goes beyond ordinary negligence allegations.

Physicians are found to be a threat to society when it can be proven in court that they intentionally hurt or tried to hurt a patient. To move forward with a claim, victims need to provide a substantial amount of evidence to prove that the injuries were not a result of the typical negligence alleged in a malpractice case. The same goes for determining that a physician was extremely reckless.

It’s possible that medical licenses can be reinstated after they’ve been revoked. If doctors do get their licenses back, they could experience probations, practice limitations, or other reprimands. All of this is determined by a state’s Medical Board; not in the civil suit.

How Often are Doctors Sued for Medical Malpractice?

As it turns out, suing for medical malpractice isn’t so uncommon. According to a Medscape survey, about 60% of respondents claimed they’d been sued at least once in their careers. After 60 years old, that 60% rose to 80%. In other words: by the time doctors reach retirement, nearly all of them have been sued for malpractice.

While those percentages are undeniably high, only about 3% of those claims make it to court. Plaintiffs either settle outside of court, withdraw, or are dismissed by the court.

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