Q:

How can you check a physician's credentials?

A:

Quick Answer

To check a physician's credentials, contact the state medical licensing board, or use online physician databases, published medical resources, social media or word of mouth. Begin a physician background search by consulting state medical licensing boards for information, such disciplinary actions against a doctor, malpractice suits, education, years of experience and hospital affiliation.

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Full Answer

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 Healthgrades.com 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.

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