After the Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners (Georgia Medical Board) renewed the license of an eye doctor accused of botching a patient's breast augmentation surgery, people are questioning the state's medical licensing structure that allows an ophthalmologist to perform plastic surgery. Georgia does not license doctors by specialty; therefore, it is vitally important for patients to ensure their doctor is licensed and experienced in the procedure they are having before undergoing any surgery.
Patient Sent to ER After Eye Doctor Bungles Breast Augmentation Surgery
Kenyatta Brown, a mother of four, was rushed to the emergency room after she nearly bled to death on the operating table during breast augmentation surgery. Her surgeon was an ophthalmologist who also performs plastic surgery at a clinic in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Following the incident, Brown filed a complaint against the doctor with the Georgia Medical Board. The board investigated the complaint but renewed the doctor's license for another two years in August 2010, just six months after the mishandled operation.
Medical Licensing in Georgia
In Georgia, doctors can simply renew their licenses online. The online form contains basic questions and inquires if the doctor has had any medical malpractice settlements or has been investigated by any other state board. As reported by CBS Atlanta, it does not ask doctors seeking to renew their licenses about open investigations.
More important, doctors are not licensed by specialty in Georgia. This means that any licensed doctor can perform any type of surgery, regardless of his or her medical school specialization. This is what permitted an ophthalmologist to perform plastic surgery on Ms. Brown.
What Patients Can Do to Protect Themselves
It is important for patients to check the license status of their surgeon before undergoing surgery. One way to do so is to inquire about their doctors' licenses with the state medical board. Many boards have a website where patients can search for a doctor by name or city and see the doctor's license status.
Another way for patients to check a doctor's license status is to contact their medical insurance company. Many insurance companies have the license credentials of their in-network doctors on their website or will make the information available upon request. Patients can also visit the website of the American Board of Medical Specialties to verify if their doctor is a board certified specialist.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm from the poor care of a doctor, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss any legal claims you may have. An attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice cases can help you understand the complicated laws and time restrictions that affect your claim.