Just the fact that there was a suit doesn't mean it was successful," says Grodin. Grodin also points out that a malpractice suit that was settled out of court also doesn't necessarily imply any wrongdoing on the doctor's behalf. Many insurance companies require doctors to sign off that even if they are not negligent, they give the insurance company the right to settle because it's often cheaper than pursuing a court case. Nelson, who is also a practicing obstetrician -gynecologist in Salt Lake City, agrees and says just the fact that someone was disciplined or sued doesn't necessarily mean anything.
On the other hand, if a person has 20 or 30 lawsuits, maybe you need to know why. If you have questions about the doctor's record regarding disciplinary action or malpractice suits, Nelson says you shouldn't hesitate to ask the doctor directly. Grodin says talking to doctors you already know and trust can also be a valuable source of information and guidance. After you've found a doctor who looks good on paper, it's time to set up an appointment to meet and interview him or her while you're well. Nelson says many physicians offer free initial consultations for new patients.
He recommends taking advantage of this opportunity and bringing a list of questions to ask, including:. Another red flag that should raise concerns is if the doctor oversteps the bounds of his specialty or certification, such as a gynecologist who also dabbles in plastic surgery.
Nelson says it's also important that the doctor answer questions in a way you can understand. That means avoiding confusing medical terminology and checking to see if you're following along.
Above all, experts say communication is the key element in finding the right doctor for you and building a good relationship. Men's Health Feature Stories.
When finding a new doctor or checking up on your own, there are a few basic pieces of information you should know: Is he or she licensed to practice medicine in the state where you live? What type of medical training did he or she receive medical school, residency, internships, and fellowships? Is he or she board certified in the specialty you desire internal medicine, oncology, etc.
Does he or she accept your type of medical insurance for payment? Continued However, John C. Where to Get More Information This type of basic information about doctors is readily available from many public sources, and experts say you shouldn't have to pay a web site or other source in order to get it.
Sources for more detailed information about a doctor's training, licensing, specialty certification, and professional record include: State medical boards : Contacting your state's medical board by phone or on the web provides information about whether the health-care provider has a valid license to practice in that state. The site www. Several states, including California, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Connecticut, have physician profile laws that require physicians to provide disclosure on public web sites about disciplinary actions and outcomes of malpractice suits filed against them.
Some physician profile sites also provide information on prior felony convictions. Medical specialty boards : The American Board of Medical Specialties represents the 24 recognized medical specialty boards in the U. Its web site, www.
However, no certification or renewal dates are provided. Additional information is available by contacting the web site of the individual specialty board, such as the American Board of Internal Medicine www. County Clerk's Offices : Information on malpractice and other criminal suits filed against physicians can be found online by visiting the web site or office of the county clerk's office in which the physician practices. Medical Societies : National, state, and county medical societies often provide physician finder or referral services.
Information provided varies. Continued Putting Information in Perspective Although the Internet has made it easier to get more information about doctors, experts say it hasn't done a good job of putting that information into perspective.
Before we get into how you should screen your doctor, it's helpful to know how medical boards currently screen physicians for criminal records. Doctors have to maintain an active license granted by their state's medical board.
Doctors have to maintain an active license granted by their state's medical board. Different boards have different policies when it comes to criminal records and. Your health is important, so you want to be assured the person responsible for your health, whether it be a physician or surgeon, has the.
Different boards have different policies when it comes to criminal records and discipline. It's entirely possible that doctors in your state are still practicing medicine with a criminal record or pending investigation, but other states are more strict. Boards in 36 states require doctors to pass a background check before earning their license and being allowed to practice.
Unfortunately though, there are 14 states that don't have the authority to run background checks on physicians. You can check screening practices in your state by visiting the Federation of State Medical Boards. However, if your state has no authority to screen physicians, then you might want to investigate your doctor further.
If you decide to go ahead and run your own medical background check, you should check both county and state criminal records, as your doctor might have practiced in different areas of your state. You can also run a national criminal check to see if your doctor has convictions in other states. You should also check the national sex offender registry list.
In addition to conducting a criminal check, look into your state's medical board to make sure your doctor is licensed and in good standing.