Researching US Doctors
November 19, 2004 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Is there somewhere online--maybe a government site--where you can check the credentials of U.S. doctors? (As in, have they been sued 20 times for malpractice, where did they go to med school, etc.) When I search for something like that, I get spambot hell and/or paid services. I need to go to a specialist and don't have the luxury of knowing enough people here to get a recommendation.
posted by _sirmissalot_ to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
This sort of information is aggregated at the state level, along with physicians' medical licensures which are also done state-by-state.

The right place to start is The Federation of State Medical Boards. In the left column there is a link for 'State Medical Board Info;' find your state's medical board website and proceed from there.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:49 AM on November 19, 2004

A friend was looking into this issue recently. It had to do with a very obscure, surgically-treatable medical condition -- sufficiently arcane that many doctors won't acknowledge its existence.

My friend was very active in online communities where information was traded, including the identity of doctors who would or would not agree to refer for treatment. Very simple information. One after another, the communities fell before libel suits.

FWIW, the AMA fights stuff like this tooth and nail. To the best of my knowledge, they still advise their members to refuse to allow patients to see their own medical records -- even in states (such as NY) where the law requires it. (And if you have an at all complicated medical history, you should see them. Another friend discovered, after securing a court order for release of his records, that he'd been referred for a psych evaluation without his knowledge. The psychiatrist -- who presented himself as merely "a specialist", which my friend (foolishly, it seems) interpreted to complete "... in your condition" -- described my friend as paranoid, hostile, and hypochondriacal. Every doctor he went to after that to look for relief from his very real symptoms saw that evaluation...

On prev: I'm glad to see this is available at least somewhere. When individuals or non-state-actors try to do the same thing, though -- watch out.
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on November 19, 2004 has some stuff on bad doctors.
posted by gramcracker at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2004

Honestly, I'd forgotten how much the FSMB site sucks. Eventually if you churn through links long enough you may get to a page like this one, which happens to be my own NY state license info page.

You may wish to bypass the FSMB completely and head for the AMA Doctor Finder directly. The AMA includes all doctors in this registry and notes whether or not they are AMA members. Here's my page, for instance - not that much more information. (I'm not sure that link will work for you, as it's internal and may have generated a cookie when I agreed to the site's TOS.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:04 AM on November 19, 2004

The California Medical Board actually allows you to do this!
posted by jasper411 at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2004

ikkyu2, the FSMB link actually directed me straight to the California Medical Board as noted by jasper411--and i found a listing on the doctor. thanks so much! (unfortunately,it lists a malpractice case settled in the 1970s for $60K.)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:26 AM on November 19, 2004

Rather than looking for negatives about a given physician, you might try a referral service to find a highly regarded and recommended specialist. Best Doctors in America is the service I have heard the best things about, but there may be others. You also might want to anonymously put a more specific question up here; I bet chances are good someone knows something about your problem and where to get it treated.

Also, a 20 year old malpractice case may or may not be relevant; I would not put a lot of stock in it as an indicatorof care if it is the only negative. More troubling would be loss of privleges at multiple hospitals, restrictions placed on the physician's license, and other disciplinary actions.
posted by TedW at 10:44 AM on November 19, 2004

A malpractice case is rarely, by itself, an indication of anything except that the doc had a patient who decided to score some free money.
posted by aramaic at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2004

New York State Physician Profiles - includes malpractice history, educational background, license details, Insurance information, and certifications.

A few other states have similar systems, but they universally (including New Yorks) suck.

Also, if you're interested in things like malpractice and histories thereof, never go to the AMA. You just won't get a straight answer.

The Center for Medical Consumers is full of great information, but is a bit advocacy oriented.

For a great national resource, check out our own US Governments Healthfinder is full of links to this sort of info for all over the country.
posted by TTIKTDA at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2004

_sirmissalot_, if you're looking for a doctor in the Berkeley area, you might want to check out the message boards of the Berkeley Parents Network that has reviews and recommendations for all sorts of things in the Berkeley area, including doctors for grown-ups, as well as lots of other info.

Also, if you need a specialist, you might check out the doctors across the bay at UCSF.
posted by ambrosia at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2004

A settlement might not indicate any wrong doing. I read a column in the SF Chronicle a few years ago. What I took from it was that any doctor that treats the plaintiff is named a defendant and a lot of times the defendants will settle since it's cheaper than fighting.
posted by MikeKD at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2004

MikeKD is right re: settlements. Ignore them for the most part, as most doctors have insurance companies who handle all the lawsuit business and are usually more than happy to settle, even if the doc admits no wrongdoing.

DO pay attention to patterns, and to judgements.
posted by TTIKTDA at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2004

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