Turned out that the man hadn't bothered to do much to update his knowledge of his specialty in about 15-20 years.
This is what board certification is for. State licensing boards usually have some requirements for staying up to date, but they really just guarantee that the person went to med school and hasn't had their license revoked. The specialty boards are much more comprehensive. Being board certified is formally optional, imperfect, and hotly debated among doctors - but I would hesitate a lot before going to a doctor who didn't maintain certification. Did they check if the doctor was board certified?
Several surgeries later, the relative ended up going to a major regional university's affiliated hospital.
Always get a second opinion before any surgery. Or any major medical decision. Ideally, get two opinions and then run them by a third party, like a primary care doctor. Always. If you're talking about wanting competition, this is basic stuff. Why did they not go to the regional university up front?
We say "imagine how much harder he'd have worked if he had more competition."
... Toughen up the liability laws...
How does making it easier to sue him give him more competition? More importantly, how does making it easier to sue him prevent the harm that was done to your relative? You're arguing for more regulation, not less.