Consumer Reports Investigates Doctors
May 2, 2016
Most people would want to know if their doctor has a history of negligence, carelessness, drug use, or sexual misconduct. However, according to a recent Consumer Reports investigation, the American Medical Association (AMA) and state medical boards have made it difficult for patients to access this information. Nationwide, thousands of doctors (many of whom are still practicing) are currently on probation for engaging in careless or unprofessional behavior.
One study analyzed data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), and found that fewer than two percent of doctors are responsible for a staggering 50 percent of the $85 billion in medical malpractice payouts made since the federal government began tracking malpractice data. In other words, a small number of doctors are responsible for a disproportionately large number of incidents. Could your doctor be one of them? If so, it is unlikely you would know. And even if you look into it, the information is hard to find. The NPDB database is not open to the public. Only hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, law enforcement, and a few other select groups have access to this information.
Since the NPDB data is private, patients must rely on state medical boards for information about their doctors. State board websites are often complex and difficult to navigate. Consequently, Consumer Reports has developed a program called the Safe Patient Project that seeks to notify patients if their physician is on disciplinary probation. According to the director of the project, the burden shouldn’t be on patients to investigate their physicians. Rather, doctors who are on probation should be required to advise patients of their status.
If you want to access your physician’s disciplinary history, you can check the Federation of State Medical Boards’ website. However, if you discover that some “action” has been taken against them, it is hard to find out what that means. Pennsylvania, along with some other states (including New Jersey and Delaware), has an online database that allows you to search a physician’s disciplinary record by name. Find the databases for these three states by following these links:
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Hold Negligent and Unprofessional Physicians Accountable
It is difficult to trust your physician when professional associations and licensing authorities make it nearly impossible to check their background. This enables physicians with a history of reckless misconduct to keep practicing, and no one is the wiser. If you or someone you know has been injured by a healthcare provider’s negligence, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we represent injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To discuss your case, call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online today.