It is easy to assume that doctors who are working at clinics and hospitals in our communities are well qualified and in good standing in their professional field, since most of us would guess that healthcare organizations would not employ unqualified doctors. However, when a surgery goes wrong or a health condition gets worse, we are sometimes led to question the quality of the care we have received. In doing so, patients often seek out more detailed information on their doctors to find out if there are any warning signs to suggest that they are not providing good care. 

For one man, the realization that his spinal fusion surgeon was the subject of several medical malpractice suit came too late, after his recovery was difficult and his condition not improved. This is a confusion situation for patients to be in, particularly when they have been referred to that doctor by another physician who they know and trust.

However, even with a recommendation it is hard to find a way to completely vet a new doctor or surgeon. Experts on the issue say that there are a few steps patients can take to protect themselves. One good place to start is a state medical board which will keep records of who is board certified and many of which have searchable databases online. Some of these databases will have information on disciplinary issues, malpractice suits, and other issues right on the website, while other websites will only have more limited information available.

Source: Washington Post, “How to find out if your doctor is in good standing. It takes some digging,” Christie Aschwanden, Feb. 24, 2014.