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How Can I Check My Doctor’s Malpractice History?

You may have every confidence in your doctor. However, after something goes wrong and you are injured by a medical error, your opinion may change. After filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be shocked to learn that your doctor has been the subject of dozens of medical malpractice lawsuits for injuries just like yours. 

How can a doctor with a long history of malpractice continue to practice? What can a patient do to protect themselves from a negligent doctor? In some cases, you can find out about prior medical malpractice lawsuits and disciplinary actions for your doctor. This information can help you decide whether you want to continue with your doctor or seek care somewhere else. 

Navigating the internet to find medical malpractice cases can be difficult. If your doctor has a common name, it may be impossible to find out about medical malpractice history from a Google search. There are other ways to find out about medical malpractice lawsuits, patient complaints, and medical board findings. You can also talk to your medical malpractice lawyer to find out if your doctor has injured other patients in the past. 

For more information about filing your own claim to recover compensation, contact our office today online or by phone at 800-529-6162.  

Why Do Doctors Get Sued?

Doctors can be sued by their patients for professional negligence that causes an injury. Medical malpractice is a breach of the duty of medical care standards that causes injury and harm to the patient. Under medical malpractice law, a doctor can be held liable for damages for injuries caused by negligence. 

Patients can sue their doctors to recover money to pay for medical bills, future medical treatment, lost income, and for pain and suffering. When a doctor makes a mistake and hurts a patient, the doctor should be held responsible. A medical malpractice lawsuit is a way for the injury victim to make sure the doctor is held accountable. 

Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Mean I Have a Bad Doctor?

It is important to understand that just because a doctor was sued for medical malpractice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they did anything wrong. Civil law in the United States can be complicated but there are reasons why a doctor may be named in a lawsuit even if they did not commit malpractice. Under the civil legal system, the initial lawsuit may include more parties and eventually narrow the focus. 

For example, if a patient was injured during a hospital stay and it was unclear from the medical records which doctor, nurse, or employee caused the injury, all healthcare professionals involved may be named in the lawsuit. Later, during the course of discovery, it may become clear which individual or group of individuals were responsible for the injury. The other parties who were not responsible may be released from the lawsuit. 

What Does It Mean If There Is No Medical Malpractice History?

Just because you can’t find records of a medical malpractice award does not mean that the doctor was never involved in malpractice. Even after a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, it can be settled by the parties involved. That means the doctor or their insurance company offers a settlement amount to the patient to end the lawsuit. After a settlement, there may be no finding of responsibility or liability. 

Most medical malpractice lawsuits end up settling before they even go to trial. A trial verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit means that the jury found the doctor was liable for the patient’s injuries. However, in a settlement, the doctor is released from the legal claims without admitting responsibility for causing the accident. Just because there is no record of medical malpractice does not mean the doctor never injured a patient. 

Searching Online for Medical Malpractice Cases

The simplest search you can do for your doctor is a simple online search. Searching Google or another search engine with your doctor’s name and “medical malpractice” can come up with some information. However, it can be hard to sort through the information you need. A search may not show prior medical malpractice lawsuits, even if there have been many. 

Some doctors have a relatively common name and there may be multiple doctors with the same name that turn up in your search. Doctors may have also paid online businesses to try and clean up any records of malpractice by using sponsored ads or trying to take down negative comments. Any remaining records of a malpractice history may be down at the bottom of your search results.  

Patient Review Websites

There are other doctor websites that give ratings or reviews to doctors. However, some of these websites are supported by the doctors paying for their listings. The reviews may not be representative of the doctor’s quality of care or history of medical errors. These pages can be like Yelp!, where there may be fake reviews or reviews by people who actually saw a different doctor. These reviews are often not helpful for finding out about a doctor’s malpractice history. 

Searching State Medical Boards for Disciplinary Actions

Another source of information to find out about possible medical errors is the state medical board. Each state licenses its own doctors and each state has different procedures for licensing, registration, medical malpractice insurance, and investigating complaints. 

State medical boards license doctors, investigate complaints, and discipline doctors. However, medical board investigations and discipline can involve other doctors who work in the same community. Medical boards can be very lenient in disciplining doctors. In some cases, a doctor can continue to make serious medical mistakes and the medical board only hands down warnings. Serious discipline, including taking away a doctor’s license, is rare. 

After a complaint or investigation, the medical board has several options for disciplining doctors. Disciplinary actions can include probation, supervised practice, public reprimands, fines, suspension, required training and education, and revocation of a doctor’s license. According to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), examples of unprofessional conduct that can lead to discipline may include: 

  • “Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Neglect of a patient
  • Failing to meet the accepted standard of care in a state
  • Prescribing drugs in excess or without legitimate reason
  • Dishonesty during the license application process
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Fraud
  • Inadequate record keeping
  • Failing to meet continuing medical education requirements”

Unfortunately, not all states have easy-to-use websites to search for a doctor’s disciplinary history. Some only show records going back a certain number of years. Other medical boards may only have basic information, like disciplinary action was taken but not for what reason. 

Medical Board Records for Maryland Doctors

The Maryland Board of Physicians is the body that regulates doctors in Maryland. Users can “file a complaint,” or “look up a license,” on the board’s website. You can search by a practitioner’s last name or license number. 

Listings for doctors math have a lot of information about the doctor, including whether they are actively licensed, where they went to medical school, and whether they maintain malpractice insurance. It may show specialty board certifications and hospital privilege information. 

The medical board search may also show known disciplinary actions by a state medical board, including in Maryland and other states. This can include pending charges, other public actions, administrative fines, medical malpractice judgments, and malpractice settlements. The listing may also show convictions for certain criminal offenses.  

Pennsylvania Medical Board Records

If your doctor is practicing medicine in Philadelphia, you can look up your doctor’s license and disciplinary history with the Pennsylvania Department of State. You can search for disciplinary actions by name or license number. Types of disciplinary actions can include: 

  • Reprimand 
  • Voluntary surrender of licensure
  • Suspension
  • Probation 
  • Fine
  • Revocation

Doctors Licensed in Chicago

For patients in Chicago, they can find more information about their doctor’s history by searching the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Their website has a “License Lookup” function to search and verify Illinois medical license holders. Searching for a doctor by name can show their license status, expiration date, and whether they were ever disciplined. A review of the doctor’s listing on the website is also supposed to show “Discipline Information from 1996 to Present.” 

Washington, D.C. Medical Board Records  

If your doctor is practicing in Washington, D.C, you can search the Washington, D.C. Board of Medicine for information about your doctor’s disciplinary history. The D.C. health department has a search tool for looking up doctors by their name or license number. A search can show the doctor’s name, license type, and status. 

Is Your Doctor Licensed to Practice In Your State?

Believe it or not, some people have gotten away with acting like a doctor without actually being licensed. In addition to putting you at risk of serious injuries, the unlicensed practice of medicine is a crime. For example, in Maryland, under code 15-401, “a person may not practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice as a physician assistant in the State unless the person has a license issued by the Board.”

As an extreme example, a young man in Florida was arrested on suspicion of practicing medicine without a license. The teenager was accused of practicing medicine, representing himself as a doctor, and treating patients. An undercover officer reported going to the 18-year-old, getting an examination, and being offered medical advice. 

In cosmetic surgery, there can be unlicensed providers who treat patients without a medical license. Patients can be tempted by the lower costs of cosmetic procedures but they are putting themselves at risk of injury, especially if something goes wrong

 In a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, there were dozens  of reported cases of unlicensed individuals performing cosmetic procedures “with serious consequences.” These included buttock injections, face injections, and liposuction. Patients were hospitalized, scarred, burned, amputated, and some patients died under treatment.  

Before getting treated by your doctor, you may want to double-check that they are licensed to practice medicine in your state. A lower price tag for unlicensed cosmetic procedures can be more costly in the end. 

Can You Check Court Records for Medical Malpractice Cases?

Patients may also be able to check their county or state civil court records for prior malpractice cases involving their doctor. You may be able to search your state’s court records online and find the doctor’s name listed as one of the parties. In some cases, the case documents may also be online. 

Unfortunately, many states and counties have outdated practices for storing and maintaining court records. An individual may have to go to the courthouse in person to search for some items. Your medical malpractice attorney is familiar with the local court rules and practices and how to find out about prior medical malpractice cases. 

Should I File a Medical Malpractice Case Against My Doctor?

Medical malpractice cases can be difficult for patients. The patient may not be sure if their injuries were just a risk of treatment or were caused by a medical error. The doctor may even try to convince the patient that they were the cause of their own injuries. When deciding if you should file a medical malpractice lawsuit, don’t leave that decision up to the doctor. 

In many cases, after a medical error, the doctor will go out of their way to avoid the patient they injured. This can leave patients feeling guilty or questioning if they were really injured by a medical mistake. Instead, get more information about your options and legal rights before making the decision. 

A medical malpractice attorney can review your case, identify any possible negligence, and let you know your legal options to recover compensation. If you were injured because of a medical error, it may cost you a lot of money in medical bills, loss of income, pain, and suffering. If the damage was caused by someone else, they should be held accountable for their actions. 

If you have questions about your legal rights after a medical injury, contact a law firm that handles medical malpractice cases just like yours. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online or at 800-529-6162 for a free consultation.

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