Many people do not check a doctor’s record before going in for surgery or another type of treatment. They simply go to the hospital and trust that the members of their care team will approach their care appropriately.
But you may be a particularly curious and informed patient. Maybe you’re scheduling your surgery and you want to know if your doctor has experience. Maybe you’re concerned that they could make a mistake, and you want to know if they’ve been sued for malpractice in the past. Can you find out? Or is a hospital going to hide that information from you?
It’s up to the licensing board
Oftentimes, the problem isn’t that hospitals are hiding this information, but that is just very difficult to get. In some states, online records are accessible by patients, at least for disciplinary records, but not everywhere. General records are not made available online for people in Pennsylvania to read. Instead, they are instructed to “contact Pennsylvania’s medical board at [email protected].” The reason for this is that the medical board in the state is in charge of licensing. These boards are the ones who deal with first providing a license to a doctor and then handling any challenges to it. You may be able to go through a board, accordingly, to get the information you are seeking.
Even this doesn’t always work
However, it can prove very difficult to find everything you want to know. For example, the Boston Globe investigated one doctor and found that he had been sued for medical malpractice 21 times. He had settled those claims, but it was certainly a concerning track record. When reporters checked the website run by the Board of Medicine in New Hampshire, however, not a single one of these 21 cases were listed on the doctor’s record.
The average person who is going in for treatment may not find out about their doctor’s questionable record until after mistakes have been made and they have suffered harm. If you or a loved one is struggling to manage the aftermath of a harmful approach to medical care, do not hesitate to seek legal guidance in order to explore your rights and options under the law.