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Researching physician medical malpractice is not always easy

Illinois residents who are sick or injured will want to make sure they get the best quality care. After all, according to some research, medical errors are the third leading cause of fatalities nationwide, affecting 250,000 individuals annually. However, according to a recent analysis by Consumer Reports, shopping around for the best doctors isn't as easy as shopping around for a plumber or electrician.

Patients will certainly want to know if their physician has committed medical malpractice in the past, has engaged in sexual misconduct, is addicted to drugs, or has committed other offenses that could compromise their ability to properly treat a patient. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, thousands of physicians practicing in the U.S. are currently on probation for offenses like these.

A survey by Consumer Reports reveals that over 80 percent of respondents felt that their physicians should have to inform them if they are on probation and, if so, why. Furthermore, two-thirds of respondents believed that doctors on probation should be banned from practicing medicine until their probationary period concludes.

Unfortunately, according to some, state medical boards, along with the American Medical Association, have not taken strides to make it simpler for individuals to learn about their physician's mistakes. For example, the National Practitioner Data Bank contains information about a physician's malpractice payout and whether and when a physician was disciplined. However, this databank is not accessible to the public.

Therefore, patients must utilize information from state medical boards to learn more about their physician's history. However, there are no uniform federal regulations for such boards, so the information they provide varies from state-to-state. While these boards may have a website, these websites can be incredibly complicated and some of them make patients undergo a very arduous process before that patent can access information about his or her physician.

According to some, there needs to be more transparency through a reliable system for patients to find more information about their physicians, so that patients can make more informed decisions. In the meantime, if a patient feels that he or she has suffered harm at the hands of a physician, he or she can contact his or her state's medical board to report the issue. The state board will assess whether or not the patient's case should be investigated. In addition, the victim may want to speak to an attorney to discuss the possibility of taking legal action.

Source: Newsmax, "Has Your Doctor Been Disciplined? Here's How to Find Out," Nick Tate, June 21, 2016

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