Consumer Reports sheds light on doctors on probation
By Zanira Ghulamhussain on Friday, April 1st, 2016
Oftentimes when patients are on the hunt for a doctor they typically use a search engine for a good doctor nearby or ask a family member or a friend. It doesn’t occur to most people to check if a doctor is on probation because there is still a societal trust that the doctor will take good care of them. Thousands of working doctors are currently being disciplined by their respective state medical boards for findings that patients may want to know about–things such as sexual misconduct, their own addiction problems, over-prescribing controlled substances, and all sorts of other documented examples of unprofessional or dangerous doctoring.
Though the odds are quite good that your doctor isn’t one of them, it’s important to know for sure. But even if you want to do your research and check up on your doctor, our Consumer Reports investigation found that people looking for a new doctor online would have a tough time figuring out whether their doctor was being disciplined. Our Safe Patient Project and activists are working to change that so it is easier for patients to learn about their doctors’ disciplinary history.
Our May 2016 cover story, which you can read online now for free, is a conversation starter for anyone who wants to learn more about their doctors but doesn’t know where to go. Take our advice: Nationally, to check on your doctor, start at docinfo.org; if the doctor has been disciplined, you will be linked to your state’s medical board website.
As part of our report, we have rated the best and worst of state medical boards. Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project staff members Lisa McGiffert and Suzanne Henry and Informed Patient Institute Founder Carol Cronin investigated the state medical board websites in all 50 states and rated them from best to worst. California, New York and Massachusetts websites ranked the highest, with Hawaii’s, Indiana’s and Mississippi’s faring the worst. For complete rankings of all the medical boards, go here.
The bottom line is that patients have a right to this information so they can make informed decisions. If you have a story about a doctor, please share it here so we can include your voice in our fight for transparency.