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Randers, I can't answer all of your questions, as most of them are for legal opinions.


However, one thing that I can tell you is that surgical residents are NOT unlicensed. They are full M.D.s, fully licensed to practice medicine and surgery. They are only getting the required surgical experience in order to become board certified in their specialty. When you agree to care in a teaching hospital, you sign a consent for care by residents and even medical students. That said, they are all supposed to be supervised by staff physicians, ready to take over if need be. If you want a guarantee that a specific surgeon will be performing your procedures, it cannot be at a teaching facility. 


Hopefully, venting helps you cope with this mess. I know it helps me to let off some steam when there are no easy solutions.



Don't know the state you're in, but by googling unlicensed medical resident, they exist. It appears "unlicensed" does not mean unable to practice, just that there are apparently rules on how they work within (what appears to be) teaching facilities.

I think you can be angry that your staff physician blew off your care, but it's very unlikely this "unlicensed" resident meant "unable to practice."  Now, did they follow protocol for how the resident can practice under their attending physician?  Don't know. That's best left to legalities. But I don't think what you think of as "unlicensed" and what it means are the same thing.

You are does appear that some states allow residents to not seek to be licensed...yet some of them do get licensed , it begs why do particular ones choose not to get licensed, which there are standards to be a background check, med school records, etc...but in general, it is a far stretch from the patient being under the explicit understanding that said patient is going to be operated on and or cared for by  a top surgeon with 40 years of experience, rather than a group of inexperienced residents, some of whom for what ever reason are not even licensed.  Also....please note the following from the AMA..


Opinion 8.16 - Substitution of Surgeon without Patient's Knowledge or Consent

A surgeon who allows a substitute to operate on his or her patient without the patient’s knowledge and consent is deceitful. The patient is entitled to choose his or her own physician and should be permitted to acquiesce to or refuse the substitution. The surgeon’s obligation to the patient requires the surgeon to perform the surgical operation: (1) within the scope of authority granted by the consent to the operation; (2) in accordance with the terms of the contractual relationship; (3) with complete disclosure of facts relevant to the need and the performance of the operation; and (4) utilizing best skill.

It should be noted that it is the operating surgeon to whom the patient grants consent to perform the operation. The patient is entitled to the services of the particular surgeon with whom he or she contracts. The operating surgeon, in accepting the patient, is obligated to utilize his or her personal talents in the performance of the operation to the extent required by the agreement creating the physician-patient relationship. The surgeon cannot properly delegate to another the duties which he or she is required to perform personally.

Under the normal and customary arrangement with patients, and with reference to the usual form of consent to operation, the operating surgeon is obligated to perform the operation but may be assisted by residents or other surgeons. With the consent of the patient, it is not unethical for the operating surgeon to delegate the performance of certain aspects of the operation to the assistant provided this is done under the surgeon’s participatory supervision, ie, the surgeon must scrub. If a resident or other physician is to perform the operation under non-participatory supervision, it is necessary to make a full disclosure of this fact to the patient, and this should be evidenced by an appropriate statement contained in the consent. Under these circumstances, it is the resident or other physician who becomes the operating surgeon. (I, II, IV, V)

Issued prior to April 1977; Updated June 1994.


Last edited by Randers.USA
I am horrified by your situation, and am sorry this mess is happening to you.  Regarding license or not, states vary...interns in general get a teaching license...meaning working within a teaching system.  Once intern year is over, step 3 is passed some states require residents to get and maintain their own license, while other states will not all the 'independent' license until very near the completion of residency training. Whether or not she held an independent license is what is reflected in whatever followed her name...most likely. I can assure all interns and residents are 'licensed' in some manner even as new grads...I guess what I am saying is try not to get caught up in that term.  The care you received is another story.  We're you diagnosed with sepsis and in a step down unit or ICU?  Whether or not there was true negligence will be decided by review of your records in court.  Echoing Rachel, the attending is ultimately responsible and it pains me to think a good competent surgeon just handed you over to someone with no experience.  Makes me shudder to think...scary.  generally, when they are teaching everyone is working together, and attendings won't hesitate to hip check someone out of the way at the slightest hint of issue.  Did you feel they just didn't listen to you immediately after surgery?  This whole situation just sucks...and I really hope your body can get better soon.  Keep us updated..

I agree. These are legal issues that are outside the scope of this discussion board. We are here for support, advice, and assistance in regard to your medical problems and how they are affecting you. Venting and getting suggestions from others who pursued legal action is fine, but let's not get into lengthy discussions about the legal merits of specific damages. There are med/mal discussion boards for that. 


That said, I do appreciate how much pain, expense, and distress you have been going through with the accident and all the aftermath that resulted from it. 


And, thank you Randers, for smartly not naming the doctors or the hospital Here on a public forum. That could potentially create more grief for you.



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