A South Dakota doctor is the chairwoman of the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners (“Board”), which adjudicates complaints against doctors (and other health care providers) in South Dakota. The Board has the authority to revoke or suspend a doctor’s medical license in South Dakota, ostensibly to protect the public.
This same doctor was also on the board of the dominant medical malpractice insurance company for South Dakota doctors when she was reappointed to the Board. After the doctor’s reappointment to the Board, the medical malpractice insurance company created an insurance holding company and the doctor was moved from the board of the medical malpractice insurance company to the board of the holding company.
However, there are questions about the relationship between the medical malpractice insurance company and the insurance holding company: it is reported that documents filed in a federal lawsuit pending against the medical malpractice insurance company indicate a close relationship between the insurance company and the holding company (a marketing brochure for the holding company states, “As its founding member, MMIC [the medical malpractice insurance company] provides Constellation’s [the insurance holding company] executive leadership and offers its considerable resources and expertise to share with other companies in the affiliation … Through MMIC, Constellation offers member insurers access to a wide range of products and services, including: Proactive, enhanced litigation support.”
How is this not a conflict of interest for the doctor to be simultaneously heading the Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners, which disciplines South Dakota doctors and whose decisions with regard to South Dakota doctors may make it easier to sue a South Dakota doctor for medical malpractice, and sitting on the board of the insurance holding company that has close relationships with the dominate medical malpractice insurer in South Dakota, for which the doctor receives monetary compensation, the amount of which is undisclosed (“”We are a private company, so we don’t release actual financial numbers, but the board members are paid a stipend for their time and travel”)?
A medical malpractice lawyer in South Dakota, who has experience in representing both doctors and claimants in South Dakota medical malpractice claims, reportedly observed: “Neutrality is critical, and you can’t have somebody who has a financial interest in the outcome or serving two masters. That board has a policing job to do, and it’s hard enough to do being colleagues let alone having a financial interest involved.”
A South Dakota doctor, who serves on the South Dakota State Medical Association’s Council of Physicians, observed: “I would imagine you would be very valuable to MMIC if you were also the president of the licensing board. You would be privy to a lot of information.”
A federal lawsuit was reportedly filed against MMIC in November 2013 claiming that MMIC interfered with the physician-patient relationship between a South Dakota urologist and his female patient after the urologist advised his patient that her former urologist in Nebraska had improperly treated her and the South Dakota urologist agreed to testify on her behalf as an expert in a medical malpractice claim against the Nebraska urologist – both the Nebraska urologist and the South Dakota urologist were insured for medical malpractice claims through MMIC.
According to the allegations, the South Dakota urologist was forced to remove himself as his patient’s expert in her medical malpractice claim against the Nebraska urologist because MMIC allegedly threatened to revoke the South Dakota urologist’s medical malpractice coverage and warned him that acting as his patient’s medical malpractice expert against the Nebraska MMIC-insured urologist would be “bad for his business.”
If you or someone you know may be the victim of medical malpractice in South Dakota, you should promptly consult with a local South Dakota medical malpractice attorney who may investigate your South Dakota medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a South Dakota medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with South Dakota medical malpractice lawyers who may assist you with your malpractice claim, or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.