Using Public Records to Check-Up on Your Doctor

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Doctor shopping is one of those unappealing, yet completely necessary tasks. If you ‘ve recently moved, or simply need a new doctor, you should definitely do your homework. Sometimes it is enough to use a recommendation for a family or friend, but it’s your body, so it could be helpful to perform brief check on your won. Thanks to the internet, those background searches on a doctor can be performed within a few clicks. There is a website called the Free Public Records Directory, which can be used to access almost any public record you can think of. Using this directory can take a lot of the heavy lifting out researching your doctor’s history.

The regulation of professional licensing is handled by the state in which the person practices medicine. The agency that manages licensing records will vary by state and can include a local department of licensing or a local health department. Where online searches are available, you can often search just be using the doctor’s name. A professional license search could produce information such as location, place of education, year of graduation, and professional affiliations. Also, in some cases, you may even be able to find information about the doctor’s insurance coverage and disciplinary actions. For example, in the state of Florida, the results produced through a professional licensing search include education and training, academic appointments, specialty certifications, financial responsibility (insurance coverage), and proceedings and actions. The financial responsibility section discusses the amount of the doctor’s insurance limits and liability cover. Through the “proceedings and actions section, you can determine if there have been any criminal proceedings, or other actions brought by health organizations.

However, such depths of information may not be available in every state. As such, you may need to do some additional digging on your own. Two of the important check points could be criminal records and sex offender records. Although it is an unpleasant thought, you may still find it relieving to verify whether or not your potential next doctor has a history of criminal or sexually deviant behavior. Criminal records are typically public records. Some information may not be available to view, but at least the basic information is available for viewing, such as the crime committed. Some courts make criminal records searches available online. Also, sex offender registries are available in every state and are easily searchable online. While some states may not have “high tech search options, you can often at the very least find postings of registered sex-offenders in your area.

Court records, bankruptcy, and driving records may also produce some interesting background information on a doctor. Was the doctor involved in some nasty litigation with his last business partner? Was he required to file for bankruptcy in his last practice? Does the doctor have a history of accidents? These questions can be answered by searching through court records. While some of the information found in these types of records may not relate exactly to the medical procedure to be performed, they might help you uncover a bit about the doctor’s character.

Some may ask: Is all this searching and digging an invasion of privacy? I believe this is a valid question, and for many the answer may be yes. If you find that you are struggling with this dilemma, you may want also consider asking yourself: Do I have a right to know this information, and will it help me make more informed decisions?

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