How well do you know your doctor?
The odds are high, these days, that you got your doctor’s name off a list provided by your insurance company. The website created by the doctor’s clinic or office may have had some basic information about your doctor’s professional degree and education. You may have even been able to find a few reviews online that gave you some insight.
What you don’t know, however, is whether your doctor has had serious problems in the past that affect his or her ability to provide good care. In fact, your doctor could be on probation by the medical board — and you wouldn’t know it.
According to Consumer Reports, patients are woefully uninformed about their doctors. Doctors are under no obligation to tell their patients that they’ve been disciplined by their medical board — nor is the information readily available to the public. In fact, medical boards actively resist the idea that doctors should be required to tell patients about any disciplinary actions they’ve faced. They feel that it would undermine the doctor’s working relationship with his or her current patients.
Which, frankly, is precisely the point.
Patients should be entitled to think twice about seeing a physician who has recently been sanctioned or put on probation because of a serious lapse in professionalism, drug abuse, mental illness or incidents of malpractice. If a patient is willing to take the risk anyhow, that’s fine — but denying patients the information means that patients are essentially flying blind when they choose one of the most important relationships in their lives.
It’s important to understand that discipline by the state medical board doesn’t really do much to protect patients. In theory, a doctor who has serious issues with malpractice would be practicing under the watch of another physician or a board — but that usually means that the doctor’s records are closely reviewed. There’s nobody there in the examining room or operating room to actually prevent new instances of malpractice from occurring.
The only way to bring a negligent doctor to justice is by taking full advantage of your opportunities in court. Don’t allow acts of medical malpractice to go unchallenged.