Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, CNBC reports. A Johns Hopkins study estimates that over 250,000 people nationwide die from medical errors annually. Other reports, such as a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, put the number as high as 440,000. When undergoing medical treatment or testing, it’s important to pick a good doctor to avoid becoming a victim of malpractice. By conducting a thorough background search, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about who to trust with your medical care.
Is your doctor inappropriate?
Fortunately, you’ll find that most doctors are perfectly qualified and trustworthy. However, it’s beneficial to know how to spot an inappropriate doctor who may breach the legal, ethical and professional requirements concerning behavior around patients. For example, if you simply find yourself feeling uncomfortable, patronized, or otherwise uneasy in the presence of your doctor, it’s always wise to follow your instincts and go with someone else. Additionally, if your doctor continually makes mistakes like reading test results incorrectly or forgetting your appointments, that’s a sure red flag. As soon as you spot anything amiss, switch to a different doctor.
Checking out your doctor
Performing a background search of your doctor’s history is usually a time-consuming task. Bear in mind, these searches may also involve making phone calls if you don’t initially find the information you need online. To start, visit the Federation of State Medical Board’s Physician Data Center website, and search for your doctor. You should find their degrees, board certifications, active license, and any legal actions against them. Additionally, you can use the American Medical Association’s AMA Doc Finder to check the state’s medical licensing board for all states your doctor has practiced in. A suspended license usually indicates a past actionable offence. Be sure to also check the state medical license board in all states your doctor’s worked in.
Don’t be afraid to ask
It’s not uncommon for background searches to turn up little information. In this case, your doctor either has a clean record or previous legal action has been lawfully removed (such as in the case of a lawsuit being settled out of court and the claim removed). Moreover, malpractice lawsuits aren’t always justified. In some cases, the doctor may genuinely not be to blame. So, if you don’t quite have enough information to judge your doctor’s skill and integrity, always feel free to ask them if they’ve ever had a medical negligence claim filed against them. You’re well within your rights as a patient to know, and that way you can avoid making any wrong assumptions.
Doing your due diligence and researching your doctor’s medical history is essential to avoid becoming a victim of malpractice when receiving medical testing or treatment. Only by collecting and assessing all information available can you make an informed decision and find the best doctor for your needs and condition.