In the United States, around 17,000 patients file a medical malpractice lawsuit every year. About 75% of medical providers in low-risk areas of healthcare have been the target of medical malpractice litigation. About 99% of medical providers in high-risk areas have been sued by former patients. A medical malpractice attorney can help you if you’ve suffered in significant ways because of your healthcare providers’ negligence. If you are anticipating that you will have to undergo treatment for an existing condition, you may have concerns about the quality of medical care that will be provided to you. This is understandable. In advance of receiving treatment, you may find peace of mind by knowing your physician has a clean record. If they do not, then you can consider switching to a different doctor.
Ask Your Doctor
Prior to undergoing treatment or surgery, it is reasonable to ask your doctor if they have ever been sued for medical malpractice and if the plaintiff was successful in court. Our culture falsely imprints on patients that their physicians are beyond reproach but this is a fallacy. There is a Patient’s Bill of Rights but it does not include asking your doctor if they have ever had to litigate a medical malpractice lawsuit. As your medical malpractice lawyer might tell you, it’s also not something that a physician will disclose unless pressed to do so. Even then, they may be evasive. You have the right to ask them, and they have a moral obligation to answer honestly. If they lie to you and you later move forward with a lawsuit, your medical malpractice lawyer may choose to bring this up in court.
The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB)
The NPDB is a national database in the United States that contains negative information about physicians, including successful medical malpractice suits against them. However, independent studies have shown that not all claims are reported, despite fines that are supposed to be imposed for non-compliance. In addition, access to the database is restricted and public access is not possible. You can request a doctor’s NPDB report but they are not legally obligated to provide it to you.
Every state has a medical board which is responsible for licensing physicians to practice medicine in that state. The state’s medical board is also responsible for handling disciplinary matters such as suspensions or the revocation of medical licenses. Check your state’s medical board website to see if any information is provided about your physician.
Perform an Internet Search
Though there may not be definitive information about your physician in terms of a settlement he or she paid as a result of a medical malpractice lawsuit, you might find online reviews that are instructive. Also keep in mind that if someone is successful in gaining a settlement for a lawsuit, the terms of that lawsuit may include a requirement of confidentiality. As a result, the information about the physician may be unavailable.