Choosing a doctor or healthcare provider for you and your family members can be a stressful experience. Of course, you want to choose a compassionate and trustworthy doctor, but you also want a doctor who has extensive experience and medical skills. In the back of your mind, you might also consider whether the doctor has ever been accused of medical malpractice.
According to the Civil Justice Resource Group, at least 65,000 to 200,000 people die each year because of medical accidents. At least 25,000 to 120,000 of these deaths are caused by negligence.
Many cases of medical malpractice go unreported. A patient may assume that a negative result or complication was unavoidable. Unless they see another doctor or a lawyer, they may never realize that their condition was caused by medical negligence.
Examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to:
- Emergency room errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication errors
- Nursing home errors
- Birth injuries
- Surgical mistakes
- Delayed and misdiagnosis
- Failure to diagnose a condition
Medical malpractice is a stark reality. Doctors and other healthcare providers cause injuries and deaths because of negligence, intentional wrongdoing, and errors. Therefore, as you search for a doctor, it is essential to check the doctor’s history of medical malpractice claims.
How to Check Medical Malpractice Claims Filed Against a Doctor?
There are several steps that you should take when researching a doctor. First, you can find out if a doctor has prior medical malpractice claims by doing the following:
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
Search for actions filed against a doctor’s medical malpractice insurance coverage through the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. There are several ways to search for information, including by name. Make sure to search for Medical Professional Liability or MPL claims.
Doctors must have professional liability insurance or demonstrate that they can pay financial claims for malpractice. Insurance companies and doctors are required to report medical malpractice claims to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Therefore, this is one of the best places to research a doctor’s malpractice claims.
Local Court Records
You can research most local court records online. If not, you can go to the courthouse to research court records. By searching the doctor’s name and practice name in the local court records, you can view and read medical malpractice lawsuits filed against the doctor. Medical malpractice lawsuits are a matter of public record.
Florida Department of Health
The Florida Department of Health is required by state law to gather and publish information about doctors and their practices. In addition to reading about past complaints and incidents, you can also access other information about the doctor, such as their education and professional experience. You can also find information about disciplinary actions involving the doctor.
Other Steps to Follow When Researching a Doctor
When you are looking for a new doctor, you may also want to read reviews about the doctor from former patients. While there will generally be some negative reviews, doctors with a good reputation have far more positive reviews than negative reviews.
You can search for reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review websites. An excellent way to search for potential malpractice claims is to insert your doctor’s name in the search engine followed by “medical malpractice.” For patient reviews, follow the doctor’s name with “patient reviews” or simply “reviews.”
Remember that information obtained online may be incorrect. Therefore, always verify the information you discover online about the doctor’s practice, education, experience, and medical malpractice record with a reliable source.
Do not forget to check for complaints and problems related to the doctor’s license. Most complaints related to the doctor’s license may be malpractice claims. However, there could be issues in which the doctor was sanctioned or disciplined for violating licensing rules and regulations. A record of license complaints does not speak favorably of the doctor.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Medical Malpractice?
You may have researched your doctor’s history of malpractice claims, or you may have been a patient with your doctor for decades. However, your doctor could still make a medical error or be guilty of negligence that causes you harm.
If you are concerned that your injury or illness was caused by medical malpractice, seek legal advice as soon as possible. An attorney can review your situation and advise you of the steps you should take to protect your health and legal rights. If you need immediate medical attention, go to the emergency room or see another doctor for an evaluation and second opinion.
The quicker you act after a medical error, the better chance you have of recovering fully from the injuries. Talking to a lawyer also gives you the information you need to make an informed decision about proceeding with a medical malpractice claim.