Doctors who have committed serious medical mistakes have discovered a way to skirt around the controls that state medical boards try to exert over them. Instead of letting a state medical board take their license to practice, they surrender it instead -- and then go to another state to practice, their troubled histories hidden from their patients.
For example, one doctor took a healthy kidney out of a Louisiana woman during what was intended to be surgery on her colon. He surrendered his license to practice in Louisiana before that medical board could revoke it and promptly moved to California. There, he mistook another woman's fallopian tube for her appendix and removed it. He bungled that patient's surgery even further, leaving part of her intestines unattached, leaking into her body. He surrendered his California license and moved to Ohio -- where he's currently on staff at a Cincinnati urgent care clinic.
Surrendering a medical license is cheaper and easier than defending one, especially when the evidence of a doctor's malfeasance or ineptitude is great. In addition, it's a much better way to limit the fallout to their reputation -- especially if they surrender their license before formal charges are levied. Then, they can cleanly move to another state and start over -- without the restrictions they'd face if they were sanctioned or stripped of their license in a formal proceeding.
This puts patients at an extreme disadvantage. There are hundreds of doctors who have taken advantage of this gap in the system that allows them to practice despite severe deficiencies in their skill. One investigation into the practice identified over 250 doctors who had essentially reinvented themselves this way -- but the true number is hard to guess. Without a national tracking system or information that's easily available to the public, patients are left to guess if their doctors are among them.
One of the few viable ways to hold a doctor accountable for his or her negligence is through a medical malpractice suit. A lawsuit can force a doctor to accept responsibility for medical mistakes and provide you with the financial relief you may need to move forward.