How Can You Check Your Physician's Credentials?

To research a physician's credentials, look up the individual by name and location on a state licensing board and verify if the physician's board certification is authentic. Next, determine whether the physician's education and residency information is valid using a Web service such as

Every U.S. state licenses doctors and physicians to operate within its borders. Furthermore, each state features different legislative and executive bodies designed to administrate the provisions of physician licensing. As a result, individuals who wish to verify a physician's state credentials need to look up that physician by name and location through their respective state's public search service, which may or may not be available online depending on the state.

Verifying board certification is a process that comprises of two steps: checking the physician's credentials and checking the credentials of the board that certified him. Examples of legitimate certification boards include the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Board of Physician Specialties. Most legitimate boards offer public directory listings of their members, allowing individuals to easily discover whether physicians are certified members. Be aware that it is possible for a particular physician to be certified while remaining absent from the Web certification list provided by the board.

Many state medical licensing boards provide physician information online. Be aware that such online sources only provide information regarding completed lawsuits and not pending lawsuits. Follow up on any reported disciplinary history, even if minor, because licensing boards frequently are lenient on physicians to allow them to continue to practice.

Sites such as also provide free background information on doctors, as well as patient reviews. Use caution when reading patient reviews or information regarding pending lawsuits, since good doctors may be the target of a frivolous lawsuit. This information, as well as social media and word of mouth, may provide insight into the doctor's bedside manner.

Propublica provides information regarding payments pharmaceutical and medical device companies make to individual doctors and comparisons of the prescription habits among doctors. Similarly, some doctors have published medical research studies, which may inform patients regarding the doctor's expertise in a particular field and potential conflicts of interest.