When and How to File a Complaint Against Your Doctor
A John Hopkins study revealed that on average, 250,000 people die each year in the United States due to medical mistakes. As many as four million more experience non-fatal errors that can delay treatment, compromise care, or otherwise put the patient at risk for serious injury or illness. A 2021 study, published by the National Library of Medicine, estimates these medical errors cost approximately $20 billion per year. And then there are those who experience willfully malicious acts (such as sexual abuse at the hands of their physician) that may or may not affect treatment or diagnosis but can cause great harm.
Some incidents may be fairly clear-cut, with substantial evidence indicating negligence or medical malpractice. However, many may lack such evidence and, in some cases, the mistake (or its consequence) may not be immediately evident. For example, a patient who has cancer but is misdiagnosed may not learn until long after the fact.
In cases like these, patients often feel called to make a formal complaint with their state’s medical board. However, this course of action isn’t always as impactful as you may think. Read on to learn more about reporting a doctor and what else you can do to repair harm done.
The Truth About Filing a Complaint Against a Doctor
Any doctor who causes harm or injury, delays treatment, or otherwise provides substandard care is subject to a formal complaint. This encompasses a number of possible acts, including (but not limited to):
- Defective drugs
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial Plexus
- Wrongful birth
- Kidney damage from Gentamicin
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Emergency room errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication & prescription errors
- Erb’s palsy
- Wrongful death
- Operating room errors
- Hospital or institutional negligence
- Errors in diagnosis
- Birth injuries
However, most state medical boards won’t take disciplinary action against the physician. Even if a doctor is sued for malpractice (one or multiple times), their license to practice probably won’t be suspended.
Those who have been victims of the above situations due to negligence, abuse, or misconduct should consult an attorney, as filing a complaint probably won’t result in any meaningful action.
How To File A Complaint Against a Doctor in Illinois
Should you want to proceed with filing a claim regardless, you can do so with your state’s licensing board. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation also has a license lookup available to the public where patients can confirm their physician is licensed and in good standing.
Once your complaint is filed, you will need to collect as much information as possible about the situation. Obtain a hard copy of your medical records along with any other supporting documents and then be prepared to submit them to your doctor’s state licensing board. An analyst will then review the information and, if necessary, request that you gather additional information that they may need to fully investigate the case. This can take several months, but you should receive notification of the final ruling.
Again, it’s important to note that your efforts to report a doctor to your state’s licensing board may be in vain. In most cases, state and federal medical boards often won’t take action—and you’ll be left without a way forward.
For that reason, it’s recommended that you seek out an expert attorney to determine if you can pursue justice in a court of law.
>>> Related read: How to File a Complaint Against a Doctor in Illinois
How to Move Forward With a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Hurley McKenna & Mertz has ample experience representing victims of medical malpractice in court with results favoring the victims. If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, it could be helpful to discuss your options with a trusted attorney.
For a consultation to learn more, you can contact the trusted attorneys at Hurley McKenna & Mertz.