Has your doctor been sued for (and found guilty of) malpractice?
It’s a reasonable question, in an age when medical error is the fourth leading killer in the U.S. and self-advocacy is the single most important trait you can bring to your next doctor’s appointment.
Yet, most people don’t know the answer. In fact, Bell Law firm asked in a recent survey and found out that 83 percent of our sample of Georgia residents that saw a doctor in the past year didn’t know if their provider was ever named in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is shocking, since medical negligence is a major cause of injury and death .
How do you find out for yourself? Start with the state medical board. Every state has a board that licenses its doctors. In Georgia, for example, that board is the Georgia Composite Medical Board (GMCB).
The same boards that issue medical licenses also tend to handle any disciplinary matters, license suspension and license revocations. It’s the place to go and search your doctors name, find out if they have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, and learn about lost malpractice suits.
In Georgia, there are thresholds before which a malpractice claim need not be listed. For example, the Georgia malpractice judgement list only includes those judgements rendered within the last 10 years, and in excess of $100,000.
There are three scenarios in which a settlement is listed on the GMCB website. The state requires that at least four settlements regardless of amount be reached with the doctor before it will list any at all. That number falls to three when one of those settlements is over $100,000. And the state lists any settlement in which at least one payment is in excess of $300,000.
Beyond the medical board websites, complaints against doctors tend to live in one of two places: The State Department of Health Services, or inside court records. In either case, a trip down to the health services office or the appropriate clerk of court can be very informative.