The simplest way to find out if a doctor has been sued for malpractice is asking. It is possible to check legal records in each state where the doctor is licensed. Additionally, every state has its own medical board that keeps track of licensing, disciplinary actions and complaints, says the law firm of Morgan & Morgan. Many, but not all, state medical boards provide malpractice lawsuit information for state-licensed doctors.
It is important to check state medical board records in each state where a doctor was licensed to practice because histories do not transfer from state to state, says About.com. The site notes the case of Michael Skolnik, a man who died from brain surgery performed by a doctor in Colorado. The doctor had faced a malpractice lawsuit in Georgia for the same surgery, but the record did not show up on his Colorado licensing history.
A significant number of doctors have been sued for malpractice; however, many cases are baseless and do not reach trial. A 2013 Medscape study of nearly 1,400 physicians found that 40 percent of doctors have been named in malpractice suits. Only 21 percent of the medical malpractice lawsuits went to trial, and a mere 2 percent of lawsuits ended with a jury verdict for the plaintiff. The existence of a malpractice charge does not mean a valid complaint.