Who gets notified when there's a medical malpractice claim against a doctor?

“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

“We don’t want any other family to ever have to go through this.”

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I hear these two statements all the time when meeting with new clients. A lot of people may think that money motivates medical malpractice plaintiffs. In my experience, though, a major consideration for most people injured my medical errors is to make healthcare safer for everyone.

Hospitals and doctors can ignore a lot of things. As a former hospital administrator, I can tell you that no one ignores medical negligence lawsuits and the potential monetary liability that they bring. And considering that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America, I think there’s a lot of room for improvement and learning from mistakes.

What happens to doctors when they’re sued?

Some folks also express a desire for a negligent physician to lose his or her license. In our system of laws, though, that’s unlikely unless there are special circumstances. The Texas Medical Board rarely takes a licensure action against a doctor related to medical malpractice allegations unless criminal conduct is involved or there is a cluster of cases in a time period.

One thing that does happen, though, is that claims against doctors get reported. You might say that they end up on their “permanent records.” Let me explain what I mean.

Insurance companies must report on doctors

Medical liability insurance policies require doctors to report any lawsuit or notice of a health care liability claim, in order to preserve coverage. Texas Occupations Code Section 160.053, in turn , requires insurance companies to notify the Texas Medical Board of any of these events involving a doctor:

· A petition or complaint is filed to initiate a lawsuit.

· A settlement is reached with the patient, either before or after a lawsuit is filed.

The insurance company notification of the Board must include a copy of the complaint or petition, any settlement agreement, and any preliminary expert reports served by a plaintiff.

The Texas Medical Board must investigate physicians at a certain point

Texas Medical Board Rule 176.8 requires the board to investigate a physician’s competency to practice medicine after three lawsuits in a five-year period. Specifically, the rule is triggered when there are at least three medical expert reports, in three separate medical malpractice lawsuits, filed against a doctor.  Importantly, the plaintiffs in the three lawsuits don’t have to win their cases for this rule to apply.

Even absent three lawsuits, a combination of at least three lawsuits and/or settlements mandates am investigation of the physician by the Texas Medical Board.

National Practitioner Databank follows doctors everywhere

We recently successfully settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against a surgeon whose negligence caused our young client to have a permanent brain injury. From what we’ve heard through the grapevine, the doctor was run out of the hospital and town!

By the way, because Texas law keeps hospital investigations and actions involving doctors privileged and secret, sometimes the only way to find out this type of information is through the grapevine. We also uncover a lot of facts held hostage by hospitals through depositions.

Sure enough, we verified that the surgeon moved of state. I explained to my client that it didn’t matter because the news of this lawsuit would follow him there.

Hospitals, doctors, and medical boards are required to report adverse actions, like lawsuits to the National Practitioner Databank. This, too, is a privileged source of information, but it still plays an important role.

When a hospital considers hiring or granting staff privileges to a physician—called credentialing—it must make an inquiry to the Databank. The idea is that hospitals need to know who they’re getting. Similarly, hospitals have to re-credential doctors annually, which prompts another Databank query. Hospitals also need to know whom they’re keeping around.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of poor medical, hospital, or surgical care, click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.