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Finding information on physicians’ misconduct may be difficult

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

According to Consumer Reports, a surprising number of doctors are reportedly on probation for serious offenses such as drug addiction, unprofessional behavior and sexual misconduct. With this information in the back of our minds, we may go to our next doctor’s visit wondering how trustworthy our physicians truly are. Unfortunately, according to the same report, it may be difficult to find out.

According to information gathered by Consumer Reports, efforts to make it easier for the public to find out about a doctor’s transgressions have been somewhat thwarted by state medical boards and the American Medical Association. Despite the fact that an astounding 82 percent of individuals surveyed agreed that doctors should be transparent about their past issues or current probation. Roughly two-thirds of those individuals surveyed agree doctors should be banned from their practice until their probation is over.

Report Used Information Not Available to the Public

This information was gathered by analyzing data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, a collection of malpractice and disciplinary records which is not public record. Only a few select groups, including hospitals, insurance companies and law enforcement agencies can access this information. Unfortunately for patients, the information collected by the National Practitioner Data Bank may prove valuable when looking into healthcare providers.

Patients interested in finding out more about providers are left at the mercy of state medical boards. Many times, gathering information about a provider’s history is complicated and time-consuming. This leaves patients receiving healthcare from doctors that may or may not be on probation for serious infractions.

Until provider information is readily available to patients, there may be no telling what kind of doctor you’re going to get. In the event of doctor error or medical malpractice, patients may need to speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about their options.

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