How to find out if your doctor has ever been sued for malpractice

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), at least 75 percent of physicians working in what are considered to be low-risk specialties are sued for malpractice at one point or another during their careers. In contrast, at least 99 percent of all doctors working in high-risk specialties are sued at some point in time. Each year, more than 17,000 new cases medical malpractice cases are filed in the United States.

Of all specialties, the AMA, in a report released in 2010, highlighted that specialists such as obstetricians, gynecologists and general surgeons have the highest likelihood of being sued. In fact, their risk of lawsuit is more than five times higher that which psychiatrists or pediatricians face.

With those staggering statistics in mind, you're probably wondering how you can determine whether your own doctor has also been sued before. Fortunately all states have licensing boards for physicians. They're responsible for handling a number of responsibilities including issuing, suspending and even terminating doctor's licenses to practice medicine. They're also responsible for making disciplinary action decisions as well.

Access to these boards' sites is free of charge, although the depth of information provided on the different sites can vary from state to state. It's pretty standard fare, though, for you to be able to find out whether your physician has any criminal convictions on them. It's also fairly common for you to be able to access a listing of any malpractice lawsuits that have been filed against your doctor and what the outcome of those cases was.

If the information you find is not as well populated as you initially expected, then you may find using the Administrators in Medicine database to be particularly helpful. Its DocFinder physician directory gives patients an ability to search multiple state records for physicians all at once.

In the event you do find that your doctor has previously been sued for medical malpractice, the AMA warns against writing off a doctor altogether. They note that claims are ultimately either dropped or dismissed in at least 65 of all cases.

If you believe that your medical condition has worsened because of a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or because of some type of doctor error, then you should consult a Tucson, Arizona, medical malpractice attorney.

Source: Forbes Magazine, "Does your doctor have malpractice claims? How to find out," Nichole Bazemore, accessed June 30, 2017

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