Patients can verify medical licenses by consulting their state's physician licensing board online. For example, California, as of 2015, uses BreEZe Online License Verification. Users choose from categories such as physician and surgeon. They can further search by name, license number, city, county or survey.
Patients should also verify that a doctor is board certified. Sometimes, this information is available with medical-license verification. Other ways to verify board certification are to consult board association websites; examples of certifying boards are the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Osteopathic Association. Access to certification information requires registration.
Doctor rating websites also verify board certification, although the information is not as up to date as data on the board association websites. No registration is necessary for some websites, but others mandate a fee.
Some doctors have plaques or certifications in their office that demonstrate board certification. Many doctors' websites also include such information. Hospitals and medical practices sometimes have information on their doctors' board certifications as well, although double-checking the information with the board-association website itself is always a good idea.
It is possible that a certified doctor is not listed because of gaps in the cycle between certification and recertification. Calling the board association directly can get patients the most updated information on a doctor.
Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a license. State medical boards keep track of them. Physicians are classified as either medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), so it is important to search both categories if available. A doctor may be licensed to practice in multiple states.
In addition to searching for an active license for a physician, a check for specialty certifications is important. Many state licensing authorities include this information as well as any disciplinary action taken against the doctor. However, these organizations do not rank the physicians and may not include information on any current investigations in which the doctor is involved. A license to practice medicine alone should not give a patient confidence the physician is capable of diagnosing and treating his or her medical condition.