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The NSPA Blog

Finding Out About a Doctor

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Posted on November 28th, 2016 by Teri Dreher, under Take Charge, Tips & Resources

How do you check on a doctor to make sure the doctor is in good standing? No one wants to go to a doctor and have a medical procedure, such as a spinal fusion, a hip replacement or knee replacement and be worse off than when you started.

For example, a physical therapist once worked with a patient who had to have her knee replaced again-with a different doctor-because the original doctor put in the wrong size knee!

Here are a few steps you can take to determine if you want to use this doctor as your surgeon or family physician.

Start with your state’s medical board. Most state medical boards’ web sites allow you to search for individual physician licenses. Many will list information about disciplinary actions taken against a physician and payments made for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Realize though, that such records only show settlements that have been made and not pending lawsuits or investigations that aren’t complete. Unfortunately, too often state medical boards only give doctors a slap in the wrist or a letter of reprimand, probation or a suspended license. Many are immediately reinstated so they continue practicing.

Be sure to check out board certification. The doctor must be certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). This doctor has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board and has passed one or more exams administered by ABMS.

When your doctor has been sued, there is also a public record. Try checking with the Clerk of the Court for your district and see if a suit has been filed, or find out how to do a search.

If you are concerned that your doctor may be influenced by pharmaceutical companies, check the “Dollars for Doctors” page maintained by the ProPublica journalism project to find out if he or she has received drug company money-and how much.

Here are some sites that could also help you decide if this doctor is right for you:

AMA DoctorFinder-
Here is some basic information on more than eight thousand doctors in the U.S. You get information on specialty training, board certification and more. There is no information on disciplinary actions.

Healthgrades.com –
This is a comprehensive, easy-to-use site that allows searches by name, procedure, specialty or condition. There is also information on education, affiliated hospitals (hospital ratings), sanctions, malpractice claims and board actions. Patient feedback is limited.

Physician Compare –
Information from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This site provides information on board certification.

Did you ever have a problem with a doctor about his medical skills? Please share your story.

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

For a no-cost 30 minute initial consultation, please call 847-612-6684 or click here to fill out our online callback request form.