Why is it a good idea to check your doctor’s credentials? Perhaps, you would like to know where your doctor went to college or served his residency. Did he receive his education in the United States and does it matter to you? Has he ever been disciplined by a medical board or sued for malpractice? Years ago, I investigated the doctor that was hired by a hospice provider to treat my mother. It turned out that the doctor had spent the last ten years teaching high school chemistry in Chicago because his license had been suspended in two states. There were numerous complaints against him involving medical care and he owed thousands of dollars to a major medical insurance carrier for over payments he received. Since then, it has become routine for me to check a doctor’s credentials before making an appointment.
Each state maintains a list of all medical professionals required to be licensed. A search through the internet will quickly give you the information you are seeking. You will need the name of the doctor and the city he practices in. In some cases you can use just the surname to gain results, but make sure the full name matches your information.
Use a Yahoo or Google search for the medical board site in your state. Be sure it is the site maintained by the state and not an information site that requires a fee. Follow instructions for looking up a licensee. When you open the page associated with your search, check all of the tabs. You will find education, honors and awards, papers, general information, practice information, discipline actions, malpractice and convictions tabs.
Being informed helps you to make better decisions about your health care. It is your right to choose a health care provider based on his credentials and not a referral. If you have to choose from a list provided by your insurance carrier, check them all and then decide. Don’t let someone else choose for you.
You can also check the license of other health professions within the practice such as physician assistants and nurses. You might be surprised at what you find.
North Carolina Medical Board: http://www.ncmedboard.org
New Jersey Medical Board: www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/bme/index.html