How Is Medical Malpractice Investigated in Oregon?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care provider does not follow standard medical procedure or best practices in providing care. When that occurs, and a patient suffers injuries or even death, it may be due to the mistakes and negligence of that provider. The key to this process is proving that medical malpractice took place.

In Oregon, very specific steps are taken to investigate such claims. The government does not want a doctor who fails to provide quality care and follow the rules of medicine to provide that care within the state with a state-issued license. Yet, proving medical malpractice is more than just using one person’s word against the other. A Portland medical malpractice lawyer from Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC can assist with your case.

Filing a Complaint for Medical Malpractice

The first step is often for the victim or a representative of the victim to file a complaint. This is done through the Oregon Medical Board, which both issues and maintains the medical license of all doctors in the state.

Written complaints to the Medical Board are very common, and not all of them result in an investigation. In some situations, the Oregon Medical Board will investigate claims it deems as necessary in-house or send them to other government agencies to manage the process overall.

In some situations, the Medical Board can quickly investigate the claim and move forward with the necessary action. If they cannot find any information to substantiate the claim or proof that it occurred, they will not pursue further investigation. More so, if the Board finds evidence that refutes the claim outright, they will not pursue additional investigation either.

What Happens When a Complaint Is Filed?

In situations where complaints need more investigation to be ruled out as medical malpractice or to seek out support for the patient, the Oregon Medical Board will handle the process in a more hands-on way. There are several things they are looking for, but the primary starting point is determining if the state’s laws were violated.

There are 27 “grounds for revocation” of a medical license. This includes actions in which the Board may not revoke a license but otherwise discipline the provider. Some of the more common grounds for such legal moves include:

  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Substance abuse violations
  • Gross acts of negligence
  • Repeated acts of negligence
  • Conviction of a criminal crime

To make a decision on whether or not a violation occurred, the Board will gather all evidence possible. This includes, typically:

  • Statements from all impacted parties
  • Medical records of the patient
  • Statements from witnesses of the incident

They will also investigate the individual through an interview and ask key questions about what occurred and why it happened. They may speak to colleagues as well.

Will You Know About the Investigation?

The Oregon Medical Board will maintain confidentiality to the level that the state requires. That is, the law states that this type of investigation is to be kept confidential until the results are found. It is not considered public record, and therefore, not many people will know what is occurring. The information that is gathered by the Board during the medical investigation is also not presented to anyone. That means that you cannot access that information about what the Board finds even for their use in a medical malpractice case.

The names and other data that could identify the patient or the doctor are always kept confidential throughout the investigation. In some situations, the doctor or medical provider may have an idea of who the claim is about, but they will not know for sure unless you tell them you filed the complaint. Note, too, that the specifics of the investigation could give it away, especially if your case is unique. Nevertheless, the Oregon Medical Board does not provide anyone with information on who filed the complaint or who received it.

What Will Happen After the Investigation?

Once the investigation into a doctor or medical provider is complete, the state will then take action based on what it finds. Most of the time, this can take a few months to complete. There are situations where they can also take much longer, taking years to complete, especially if there are numerous expert witnesses involved.

Once a decision is made, the Board may decide to discipline the medical provider in some way. This could include limiting their ability to provide care or requiring a fine to be paid. Most of the time, the doctor will learn specifically what they did wrong and they may be able to appeal the decision.

If the situation warrants more drastic measures, the Board has the legal ability to revoke a person’s medical license. If this occurs, it means that the license is no longer valid, and they cannot practice medicine in the state (or in any state where they do not have an active license). Revocation is not done lightly and requires a significant amount of evidence to verify that it is, in fact, the best decision for all involved.

It is possible, under the Medical Practice Act, for a medical provider to petition the court to have their medical license reinstated. There is a two-year waiting period before that can occur if their license was revoked. The Board does not automatically approve these renewals but looks at all factors in the matter to determine if they should allow the provider back.

What a Victim Should Do

If you are hurt in a medical malpractice case, and you believe that the doctor should be punished for those actions, you can file a complaint directly with the Oregon Medical Board or do so with the help of your medical malpractice attorney. The goal here is to present as much information as possible to ensure that the Board has the ability to understand what occurred and what did not.

Medical malpractice is a very real threat to public safety. The state takes it seriously. If you are a victim, it is certainly worth pursuing action against those responsible.