Background Checks on doctors
This article is beating a point to death about doing background checks before you hire someone. A new book, Blind Eye: How the medical establishment let a doctor get away with murder, documents the story of not just one, but 80 or more deaths. This makes Dr. Michael Swango the nation’s worst serial killer. Swango is currently in jail, not for murder, but for filling out false paperwork! Swango had had at least one conviction for poisoning and spent a year and a half in jail, but none of this was reflected in the state’s medical licensing board records; none of this was reflected in the AMA data base; and not one of the hospital that hired him after his release from prison did a PUBLIC RECORDS background check. Not one questioned him on the 18 month gap in his resume. Aaaah! Swango continued to kill at those hospitals, including a VA hospital. When he was discovered, the hospitals apparently were more concerned about being sued for wrongful termination than about the murders he had committed. These same hospitals also compounded the problem when they wrote glowing letters of recommendation for Swango, so Swango could work at other hospitals.
We cannot recommend strongly enough that every single hospital and medical practice not depend upon the medical establishments records. They are useful, but are in no way comprehensive. Public records must be checked in all of the jurisdictions where a physician has practiced including local courts, county courts, and federal courts. This is for doctors that are going to be employed, affiliated with, or have requesting privileges at a hospital or other medical facility. The few hundred dollars a hospital or medical practice would spend on a background check may well save tens of thousands of dollars later.
Most hospitals insist that they are insured for such risks, and they are. However, I know of two hospitals that began comprehensive background checks on their physicians and cut the hiring liability portion of their insurance premium by $75,000 and $280,000 respectively. Further, in the five years one hospital has been doing this no suit for hiring liability has prevailed. In the other hospital no hiring liability suits have been brought. Even so, the deductible on these policies are $200,000 each. The hospitals spend $500 and $700 a month on background checks and now proudly crow to the public that they have the best physicians in the business. Hello, Marketing (I mean patient intake)?
In fine, you shouldn’t be lulled by the fraternity of doctors. They are not all honorable. They are not all equal. They are a cross section of the population. Most are excellent and care to their very core about what they do. At least one, however, used his license as a license to kill.