Insight

Check Out Your Doctor’s Discipline and Malpractice Record

Check Out Your Doctor’s Discipline and Malpractice Record

Daniel L. Deuterman

Daniel L. Deuterman

January 3, 2020 05:03 PM

Have you ever wondered if your doctor has been disciplined by the state medical board or been sued for malpractice?

There are several online tools, databases and websites you can use to check out a doctor’s record and read reviews from other patients. Taking the time to do this can help ensure that you get the best treatment and care possible for your injuries. It can may also protect you from medical errors, botched surgery and malpractice.

Before choosing a doctor, it’s a good idea to conduct a background search to confirm the physician’s credentials and competency. You want to make sure there aren’t any red flags in the doctor’s past, including medical malpractice judgments and settlements, criminal convictions or professional disciplinary actions.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, if you’ve been hurt on the job, or if you’ve suffered another personal injury, it’s important to make sure that the physicians who are treating you are qualified to do so. Depending on your particular and circumstances, you may be referred to multiple specialists, hospitals and clinics, and it’s important to check them all out to protect your overall health.

In some workers’ compensation cases, you may be required to get treatment from a doctor chosen by the insurance company, rather than your family physician or another doctor you choose. It’s always a good idea to check the credentials and disciplinary record of any physician and physician assistant the insurance company assigns you.

Unfortunately, there’s no single clearinghouse for information about physicians, their records and their competency. But with a little online research, you can find out a lot about the person who is overseeing your medical care.

Even if you like your doctor, you owe it to yourself to look up the provider’s medical license and confirm he or she is still in good standing with the state licensing board. Even the nicest provider with the best bedside manner may have black marks on his record. Anytime you are referred to a new physician or physician’s assistant, take the time to check that person’s record.

Start out by searching the North Carolina Medical Board. Here, you can find records of any disciplinary actions taken against a physician or physician’s assistant. You’ll also find records of any criminal convictions and any medical malpractice they’ve settled or lost since May 2008.

If you doctor practiced in other states before moving to North Carolina, it’s a good idea to check the medical boards in those states for any disciplinary actions. You can search the Federation of State Medical Boards or access each state’s medical board directly through this online directory. Even if you don’t think your doctor has practiced elsewhere, it’s a good idea to run a national check through DocInfo.org to see if he or she has been sanctioned by any medical board in the United States.

You can view Drug Enforcement Administration cases against doctors here. Records are current through 2017.

Don’t forget to Google your doctor’s name. You can find out a lot of information about a person with a simple web search. Some patients and patient advocacy groups will post about their medical experiences on web sites, forums, blogs and social media.

You may also find reviews of a physician or health care practice on the provider’s web site, Facebook page or other social media accounts. Certain review sites, like Yelp, may also have ratings and reviews, submitted by patients, about doctors.

Consumer Reports recommends the following resources to check out your doctor:

Castle Connolly. Ratings of “top doctors” based on peer nominations, research, screening, and other factors. Search by name, location, hospital, specialty, or insurance.

Healthgrades.com. Comprehensive, easy-to-use site that allows searches by name, procedure, specialty, or condition. Includes info on education, affiliated hospitals (and ratings on the hospital itself), sanctions, malpractice claims and board actions, office locations, and insurance plans. Ratings on topics such as patient satisfaction and wait time are based on patient feedback, which can be limited.

National Committee for Quality Assurance. Reliable information on doctors who meet important standards in measures such as being a patient-centered medical home, care for heart disease, diabetes, and back pain. NCQA verifies a doctor’s licensing, but other data is self-reported.

Physician Compare. Information from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for people looking for health care providers who accept Medicare. Provides information on board certification, education, and group and hospital affiliations.

RateMDs.com. Search for doctors by name, ZIP code, state, and specialty. Includes information on training as well as patient ratings on staff, punctuality, helpfulness, and knowledge. It has links to medical board records where you can get information on disciplinary actions. Patients can post questions and answers about doctors. Ratings are based on patient reviews.

Vitals.com. Find doctors by specialty, condition, insurance, name, and more. You’ll get the lowdown on a doctor’s awards, expertise, hospital affiliations, and insurance as well as patient ratings on measures such as bedside manner, follow-up, promptness, accuracy of diagnosis, and average wait time.

In addition to checking out your doctor, you may want to check out any hospital where you will be receiving care or having surgery.

Use Hospital Compare to get quality of care info about 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals and 130 VA Medical Centers.

Check out hospitals, including children’s hospitals, at U.S. News & World Report. The magazine’s records include scorecards for a variety of procedures and see how the hospital ranks and performs in various specialties.

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