People often ask us whether there is any way to investigate a physician’s credentials or background prior to developing a physician-patient relationship with that doctor. Until recently, much of that information has been available, but very difficult to obtain. While there are some standard sources which will give you an outline of the physician’s educational background, the sources themselves are often hard to find.
Now there is a company which advertises that it is a "one of a kind information delivery service that provides background information on every physician licensed to practice medicine in the United States." MediNet advertises that it provides easy access to vital information about physicians. This information will include:
- Medical school and year of graduation; Residency training which includes the institution where they trained, and their area of expertise;
- American Board of Medical Specialty Certification for states in which the physician is currently licensed, as well as historical licensure data;
- Records of sanctions or disciplinary actions taken against the physician, if any, from all states.
You can reach MediNet toll free at 1-888-ASK-MEDI. They are also available on the Internet at http://www.askmedi.com/. The cost is about $15.00.
Finding out whether your physician has been sued or has paid any claims is still quite difficult. Each local court has a database of lawsuits filed and these can be searched at the courthouse. While the jury verdicts, if any, will be available in most files, you will not find any specific information about settlement. There is a national database to which every doctor’s medical malpractice settlement must be reported. The database was designed, in part, to help identify bad doctors. Unfortunately, the information contained in the database is available only to insurance companies and hospitals. Apparently, someone thinks it would be too dangerous for the people who count most – individual patients of physicians – to get a hold of this information. If you would like more information on the national physicians database, please contact us.