Choosing a doctor is important, and unfortunately doing the proper research in order to make an educated decision isn’t always simple and straightforward. The first thing you’ll likely want to look up is what other people are saying about them and their ability, and that could include their history with medical malpractice accusations. Let’s take a look at how to find your doctor’s history and what you can do about it.
A Word of Warning
It might be unsettling to see that your doctor has been previously sued for medical malpractice and your first instinct might be to jump ship, but a history shouldn’t be an automatic indication to panic. The American Medical Association has found that three out of every four doctors in low-risk practice specialties like pediatricians and psychiatrists have faced a medical malpractice suit, while the number jumps to 99% for high-risk practices like general surgeons and OB-GYNs.
Just because your doctor has faced accusations in the past doesn’t mean they’ve been found to have actually been negligent in their practice, and furthermore, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad doctor.
Finding Lawsuit Histories
There are three ways you can find out if your doctor has ever been sued for medical malpractice. Let’s look at each of them briefly.
- State medical board: Every state has a board that’s responsible for licensing doctors and giving them permission to practice in their state. In Massachusetts, that role is filled by the Board of Registration in Medicine, whose main offices are in Wakefield. Using their website, you can search to find out if your doctor has been formally disciplined, including having their license suspended or revoked.
- State Department of Health Services: If you have an upcoming hospital stay, you should check in with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). This office handles all complaints against hospitals found throughout the state of Massachusetts.
- Court records: If your doctor has ever been sued, Massachusetts state courts will have a record of the lawsuit that’s publically available. Many of these records are available online, and those that aren’t can be obtained for a nominal fee by requesting it from your local courthouse. Of course, if the case file has been sealed or the case is confidential, then you won’t be able to see its contents.