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Medical professionals and disciplinary information

An Ohio patient might worry about the reliability of a medical professional for a serious surgical procedure, especially with issues involving the spine or heart. In reviewing a surgeon's records, however, it may be important to find more than just social media comments about a prospective professional. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to obtain this information from a state medical board.

The National Practitioner Data Bank handles information about issues related to medical malpractice payments and other discipline involving medical providers. However, this information is not made available to the public. Since 1990, approximately $85 billion has been paid toward medical malpractice claims, and an estimated 50 percent of these payouts have resulted from the actions of just 2 percent of the doctors throughout the country.

Although specific information about one's own doctor cannot be obtained by the average patient from this system, a survey conducted by Consumer Reports notes that at least 82 percent of patients believe that doctors should be required to inform their patients of certain disciplinary actions. Two-thirds of patients believe that a doctor should not be able to practice while on probation.

Some state medical boards are more efficient than others at providing information about disciplinary actions against health care providers. However, the details for other states can be difficult to locate. It could be necessary to wade through meeting minutes to find information about formal disciplinary measures.

People might ask their provider about issues such as surgical errors and poor outcomes for patients with similar procedures. A surgeon may also point out that there are certain risks with the type of surgery in question. In cases involving a poor outcome, the type of injury or possible error in question might require the review of a medical malpractice lawyer before legal action is pursued.

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