Americans file approximately 17,000 medical malpractice claims a year. Studies have shown that 75% of doctors in low-risk specialties have faced a medical malpractice claim in their career with the number shooting up to 99% of doctors in high-risk specialties. A report by the American Medical Association in 2010 found that specialists, such as general surgeons and OB-GYN’s, are five times more likely to be sued than pediatricians and psychiatrists. This information suggests that being sued is a real possibility for many doctors, including your own.
There are several resources available that provide information on doctor’s licensure and malpractice suits. One resources is the state medical board that licenses doctors to practice in their state and handle disciplinary matters such as license revocation. Many state boards have websites on which you can find information regarding whether your doctor has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, as well as malpractice suits. A second resource is the state department of health services, which provides information on hospitals including any complaints that were made against the facility. A third resource is court records which will contain whether your doctor has ever been sued in the state; copies of these records can be obtained online or in paper for a fee unless they are confidential. For example, ecourts is one such resource in New York where one can search for plaintiffs and defendants in lawsuits. The fourth resource is the Internet, where you can search your doctor’s name and keywords such as “medical malpractice” “malpractice suit” or “patient complaint” along with their name and location.
If you find that your doctor has been sued, the next step is to find out the details of the suit because people can be sued for many different reasons and simply because your doctor was named as defendant does not necessarily mean he or she committed a medical error. Lawsuits can also be initiated for administrative oversights such as not renewing a license on time or defaulting on a student loan.
The AMA also found that 65% of malpractice suits are dismissed or dropped. While it if important to know if you doctor has ever been sued for medical malpractice, it is also important to know what the facts of the case were before moving on. If your doctor displays a pattern of being sued or the suits resulted in a large payout to the patient, this should cause you to stop and think for a moment. After your research and considering the facts you have the choice of staying with the doctor or moving on to another doctor.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan have been protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims for over 30 years. Call us today if you believe you were injured as a result of medical error.