This truly is a Veeeeeeeeeeery scary story! Wonder how many other hospitals are allowing this to happen by protecting incompetent doctors??
By LISE OLSEN and LEIGH HOPPER
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
* Where disciplined doctors practice: A breakdown of 30 Houston hospitals.
EDITOR'S NOTE -- This is one in an occasional series of stories about regulation of hospitals.
Doctors disciplined by state regulators have been welcomed to practice at many Houston-area hospitals for years, often because officials overlooked or ignored negative information about the physicians.
The Houston Chronicle examined six years of physician disciplinary records from the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, then determined the hospitals where those doctors practiced. Among the findings:
-A few small for-profit hospitals, such as Houston Community Hospital in northeast Houston, have repeatedly accepted doctors that others have rejected.
-At least one local hospital, Vista Medical Center in Pasadena, allowed orthopedic surgeon Eric Scheffey to perform operations in an apparent violation of the terms of his probation from the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, according to inspection records obtained by the Chronicle. Scheffey has been sued for malpractice more than 60 times and his license is currently suspended.
-Most Texas hospitals are reluctant to act against doctors. In the past dozen years, fewer than half have reported a physician to a nationwide disciplinary tracking system required by the federal government.
-Even doctors who have been sued for malpractice 10 or more times and have been subject to strong disciplinary action from the State Board of Medical Examiners continue to be allowed to practice at local hospitals.
"Small, unscrupulous hospitals are not doing enough from their side to control the problem," said Steve Waldman, a lawyer who has sued various hospitals on behalf of patients of state-disciplined doctors. "Their committees and peer-review process isn't focused on quality, but rather the bottom line.
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