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Sweeping Allegations Under The Rug

We all have secrets, but most people’s secrets don’t put lives at risk. When doctors are allowed to cover up their bad behavior, however, all patients suffer. And now, with a recent ruling that prohibits the Board of Medicine from publicizing information about allegations made against a doctor, the Iowa Supreme Court is making the cover-up even easier.

Before October 2021, when patients or coworkers accused a doctor of unprofessional behavior or medical negligence – like shoving another doctor during surgery, in the case of the Iowan plaintiff, Dr. Domenico Calcaterra – that information was publicized by the Board of Medicine, regardless of whether the accusation ever went to a formal hearing or trial. The Board publicized that information for the benefit of future patients seeking to protect themselves from potentially dangerous doctors. In a striking show of selfishness, some accused physicians felt that making allegations of unprofessional conduct or medical malpractice public was bad for business and sought to hide them.

The District Court of Polk County initially ruled against Dr. Calcaterra, stating that “statements of charges are public records.” Bewilderingly, the Court then changed its mind and decided that the details of an investigation cannot be revealed unless included in a final written decision from a disciplinary proceeding. In other words, as long as they settle outside an official hearing or trial, negligent doctors can sweep allegations made against them under the rug.

Doctors Keep Their Dirty Little Secrets

Since the ruling, no public disciplinary actions filed against a physician in Iowa have included any details about the accusations. The board won’t reveal details – which could contain allegations of medical negligence or malpractice against a number of doctors – until formal decisions have been made, which often takes years. The courts don’t provide this privilege to the common criminal, making this case yet another example of how doctors are treated differently than the rest of us.

This ruling also deals a striking blow to patient safety, by hiding key data points patients use to find the best doctors and by hamstringing Boards of Medicine as they try to communicate crucial information about medical safety. “When the board finds that there’s a dangerous physician out there and wants to make the public aware of those dangers, they’re limited on what they can put into those public documents,” says Kent Nobel, executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine.

Bad Doctors On The Run

Even in very rare cases when a doctor’s license is revoked for medical malpractice or negligence, the Court’s ruling helps bad doctors move around. Although Dr. Calcaterra’s medical license has been revoked in Iowa since shoving a colleague during surgery, he’s had no trouble practicing cardiotherapy in both Minnesota and Florida. And he’s one of many: 250 doctors who surrendered a medical license in one state were able to practice in another state, according to a 2018 investigation by USA Today. Concealing allegations of medical error only makes it harder to root out these bad doctors and protect patients.

If medical negligence has impacted the care you or your loved one have received, inadequate, hidden information about the doctor may have played a role. To thoroughly examine your case and discuss legal options, please contact our expert Ohio medical malpractice lawyers. The Eisen Law Firm leverages over four decades of success rooting out physician mistakes to get you as much compensation as possible for the harm caused. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (216) 687-0900 or by contacting us online.