Physicians are people that we assume are competent and trustworthy, and doctors are people that we assume know what they are doing — especially in times of crisis, when we are relying upon their expertise to help heal our serious injuries or to cure a loved one of a serious illness. However, all too often that trust is misplaced. Doctors make mistakes, and when they do it can mean people are permanently harmed or wrongfully die from the errors of a physician.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Based on State Law Can Be Filed by Patients and Their Families
State legislatures have passed laws to protect against doctor error: medical malpractice statutes have been passed in every state of the union. What is medical malpractice? It is a legal case of negligence where a doctor (or other health care professional) has either acted or failed to act (an omission) in treatment of a patient in such a way that they have fallen below the acceptable standard of care for their medical community, and the result is the serious injury or death of their patient.
When there has been a case of medical malpractice, then patients or their loved ones can file civil actions for personal injury damages based upon medical malpractice. These cases seek monetary damages for medical malpractice, and often the doctor’s insurance carrier kicks in to provide financial coverage for the harm that has occurred.
State Authorities Can Also Take Action For Medical Malpractice
However, state legal authorities can also act in situations where medical malpractice is alleged. This week, for example, the Attorney General for the State of Indiana issued a news release where Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced that his office had begun taking the legal steps to temporarily suspend the medical licenses to practice for four doctors here in Indiana:
Zoeller’s office filed the petitions today with the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana against Dr. Don Wagoner, his wife Dr. Marilyn Wagoner, Dr. Robert Brewer and Dr. William Terpstra. Wagoner Medical Center has an office at 821 N. Dixon Rd. in Kokomo and 605 E. 7th St. in Burlington.
According to the petitions, an investigation revealed unsafe pharmacological mixes, high prescribing rates for controlled pain medications and numerous patient deaths resulting from multiple drug toxicity.
“Evidence revealed that the practices of these doctors pose a clear danger to their patients and the public,” said Gabrielle Owens, Deputy Director of the Attorney General’s Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit. “These types of aggressive prescribing practices can lead to diversion, abuse and addiction. Our office has worked diligently to bring these actions quickly in order to ensure patients are protected while formal licensing complaints are being completed.”
The board will consider all four of the petitions for summary suspension at its next meeting on March 27. Owens said if the suspensions are granted, the physicians could not practice medicine for at least 90 days while the Attorney General’s office drafts formal complaints to submit to the board. In licensing cases, the board has the authority to determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken.
What happened here? According to the pleadings filed by the Attorney General, patients treated at these clinics faced serious and disastrous results from trusting these doctors with their medical needs. Fourteen (14) patients are listed in the Attorney General complaint; 12 of them are dead. Of these twelve, 7 overdosed on drugs; 2 died from heavy narcotics use; 3 passed away with prescribed drugs in their bodies at the time of death.