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How can one find out about a doctor's training and whether said doctor has ever been involved in significant litigation or in trouble with regulatory agencies? 

RESEARCHING HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

How can one find out about a doctor's training and whether said doctor has ever been involved in significant litigation or in trouble with regulatory agencies?

A Consumer Reports national poll found that almost 9 in 10 Americans (88%) have the opinion that they should have access to federally collected information regarding a doctor's litigation, work and licensure history. Many public interest groups are making a push for having public access to information to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a Federal agency that collects information on problem doctors with a history of sanctions by state medical boards and hospitals and lawsuit pay-outs for harming patients.

So far the public, and in particular, patients, have been denied such access.

The real problem is that consumers cannot easily find public information about doctors with a history of bad behavior. For example, state medical boards are supposed to keep track of important information on doctors, but when doctors practice in multiple states, one board may not be aware of what another board has done. It is possible for a doctor to lose his license in one state for harming patients and continue to practice in another, leaving innocent patients unaware of the doctor's prior problems.

The National Practitioner Data Bank is the one place where all of this information SHOULD be pulled together. However, studies show that cases go unreported more often than not. In fact, healthcare providers routinely seek to dismiss doctors from lawsuits as a condition to settling malpractice claims in an effort NOT to report to the Data Bank.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? HOW CAN YOU RESEARCH BEFORE HAVING SURGERY?

  1. Ask the hard questions to your doctor. The doctor should be forthcoming of his or her specialized training and previous lawsuits. Don't be afraid to ask: "Have you been sued? If so, what was the case about?"
  2. AMA Physician Select provides limited information on the training and certification status of almost 700,000 medical and osteopathic physicians licensed in the United States. Beware though. You can only search one state at a time. The service is free of charge.
  3. American Board of Medical Board Specialties Certified Doctor Verification Service can be used to check whether your doctor is certified by one of the 24 recognized specialty boards. (i.e. American Board of Surgery, American Board of Anesthesiology, American Board of Emergency Medicine, etc.) You must register at this site, but this service is free of charge.
  4. Google your physician. Many times, just by "googling" your physician, you can find out some significant information. This would include patient reviews and even possible lawsuits.
  5. Missouri Board of Healing Arts has a website that lists all licensed doctors in the State of Missouri. It provides limited information as to whether the Missouri Board of Healing Arts has sanctioned any particular physician. You can search by name.
  6. CaseNet is the State of Missouri Circuit Court website where you can search your physician, clinic, hospital or nursing home to determine whether any civil actions have been brought against your healthcare provider. Usually, you can access the history of the case and determine whether the case is still pending or whether it has been settled and dismissed. This site is by far the most useful site.

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