Doctor still in practice despite fifty malpractice claims
As the national debate over limiting malpractice claims continues, there is still little or no talk about the deficiencies in medical licensing review. In Michigan, as in most states, the process for suspending or revoking a doctor's license is so ineffective as to be non-existent. While authorities should be slow to revoke any professional's ability to earn a living, it is apparent that physician licenses are far less vulnerable to regulation than, for example, attorney licenses. The Chicago Tribune's July 5 edition highlights the case of Dr. Nicholas Caro, an opthalmologist who has been sued 29 times in the last decade and "almost 50 times" in Cook County since 1990. The report did not identify how many claims had been raised and settled without suit.
The state's chief medical prosecutor investigated Caro and recommended more than a year ago that Caro's license be "suspended, revoked or...disciplined," but Caro is still performing surgery, and no disciplinary action has been commenced. Caro first gained unwanted publicity when federal authorities removed from his clinic office unapproved laser equipment in 1997. According to the FDA, the equipment posed health risks to patients and it had repeatedly warned Caro's clinic before seizing the equipment.
Caro blamed a litigious society and his own "high volume" practice for his problems, despite multiple jury verdicts in high six figures. The Opthalmic Mutual Insurance Company, which insures about 30 percent of U.S. opthalmologists told the Tribune that three-quarters of its insureds who have been in practice for more than 25 years have three or fewer malpractice claims in their lifetime. Caro's next-closest competitor, in terms of unhappy claimants, was a doctor with 12 claims over his lifetime.