State Begins Posting Doctors' Malpractice Info
A NewsChannel 5 investigation is already making a difference. You can now get a better picture of who your doctor is because of what we uncovered.
That investigation revealed how doctors were keeping past malpractice claims a secret from you.
But state officials now tell our consumer investigator, Jennifer Kraus, they are doing something about it.
Judy Cummings got a one and a half million dollar judgment against her doctor, George William Davis, after botched back surgery 10 years ago.
Under the law, Davis should have reported it to the state so it could be posted on the Tennessee Department of Health's website where consumers can check out a doctor's background.
But our investigation found Davis never reported that judgement or any of his other million dollar malpractice payouts.
When we shared this with his former patient Judy Cummings, her reaction was, "My goodness -- somebody's messed up somewhere."
Susan Cooper took the Tennessee Commissioner of Health job just two weeks ago.
And after seeing what our investigation uncovered, she told us, "I am not afraid to tell you that, in this case, the process didn't work the way it was intended to work."
Cooper also admits that, after seeing our story, she realized Tennesseans weren't getting all of the information they should about their doctors.
We now know that the state did, in fact, notify Dr. Davis more than three years ago that he needed to report his malpractice judgments, but he never responded.
And, for some reason, the state never did anything about it.
"I can't speak to what happened. It was long before my time," Commissioner Cooper says.
"But what I can tell you is we are taking this seriously as of yesterday afternoon."
Cooper says her staff is now going through its records and updating all of the doctors' profiles where they have credible information that there was a settlement or judgement.
So, if you look at Dr. Davis' online profile now, you'll see he's had at least ten malpractice claims since 1998 that were over $75,000 each.
And Dr. Kenneth Carpenter -- who made headlines after a half-million dollar malpractice judgment and who we found failed to list it on his online profile -- has also had his site updated by the state.
"They (state workers) started uploading information as of last night, yesterday afternoon and they've stayed and worked," the health commissioner adds.
We did check out other doctors with past medical claims who had not been in our original story and found their profiles had not been updated yet.
But Cooper says they should be eventually.
"We're going to do what is right."
See also the National Institute of Health's guide, "Choosing a Doctor of Health Care Service"