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New Jersey Senate leader wants to improve standards of care

Depending on the job that a person is applying for, particularly if it deals with children or law enforcement, it is not unreasonable to expect that a background check will be involved. However, background checks are far from mandatory for most jobs. In an effort to improve standards of care, Loretta Weinberg -- the Senate Majority Leader in New Jersey -- wants to see background checks performed on doctors.

Senator Weinberg was prompted to action following the revelation that a practicing spinal surgeon had previously been convicted in the death of a patient in his home country. Upon arriving in the states, he received his license to practice from the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, but was never required to undergo any background checks. If he had, the board might have discovered the manslaughter conviction and, equipped with that knowledge, may have made a different decision.                                            

The doctor in question claimed to be a spinal surgeon, although it was later revealed that he did not have the necessary training to perform such procedures. At least six of his patients suffered serious injuries following spinal surgeries, which led to the revocation of his license to practice in New Jersey. The board also fined him $300,000, in addition to assessing him for the $175,000 in legal fees that the state incurred while handling his case.

Before becoming a law, a bill must first pass through the state legislature and then be signed by the governor. In the meantime, health care workers who have provided professional medical care in other states or overseas are still not required to undergo background checks before receiving a license to practice in New Jersey. Unfortunately, this means that potentially negligent physicians who ignore the standards of care can care for new patients despite misconduct in the past. Although nothing can undo the injuries inflicted by a negligent doctor, a medical malpractice suit can award just and necessary recourse for any related damages that a victim must suffer due to medical negligence.

Source: nj1015.com, "Do you know your doctor's background?", Kevin McArdle, March 19, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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