Choosing the right doctor can require some research, and a comprehensive look at their professional history can be extremely useful. Especially since medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for finding out about any past medical malpractice complaints or disciplinary actions.
Every state has an official board that grants and manages physicians’ licenses to practice medicine. These boards generally maintain information about disciplinary actions against the doctor, as well as medical malpractice cases. In New York, a division of the Department of Health called the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, includes a search engine where you can find out about any professional misconduct and disciplinary actions taken. However, keep in mind that doctors can be sued by patients for any reason. Each malpractice suit should be evaluated for merit. A search of several state boards may be necessary, as many physicians hold licenses in various states, or may move if a lawsuit has resulted in disciplinary action.
A way to save yourself some time, is by visiting the Administrators in Medicine (AIM) website, which is a non-profit organization for state board executives. AIM compiles each state’s medical board’s licensing and disciplinary information in its DocFinder physician directory.
Court records should reflect any medical malpractice case information involving your physician, as well as the outcome. Records can be accessed online through the state’s court system’s web page. You will also have the ability to sign up for a tracking service, and receive email updates regarding an open case. Case documents, however, can only be accessed by submitting a request to the Clerk of the Court or County Clerk. According to Medscape’s Malpractice Report 2019, 59 percent of all physicians who responded to their survey were involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
There are numerous organizations that use patient reviews and other data to rate the quality of physicians. One of these is the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). These resources can be quite helpful since you are able to read about actual patients’ experiences. Additionally, your insurance company may also maintain a rating and review system for network doctors.
As previously mentioned, any individual can be sued for any reason, including doctors. A physician’s track record itself may not provide the entire story, as some lawsuits are not justified. Look for facts and for a pattern. If your doctor has faced many lawsuits in a short period of time, or if there have been settlements or large payouts, that is a huge red flag. If you feel comfortable doing so, you may also approach your doctor directly, and ask if they have been sued. As long as you approach them in a respectful manner, either they or your instincts may tell you the truth.
In an effort to avoid suffering from a medical error or negligence, it is worth the time it takes to research a doctor’s professional history. If you or a loved one believes they have been harmed due to medical malpractice in NYC, do not hesitate to contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. We will evaluate your claim for free, reach us through our contact form online or call (212) 732-9000.