Is Your Surgeon Competent?

In an emergency medical situation, you usually do not get to pick the attending surgeon. In other situations, you may have some choice, although your insurance policy may limit you to an approved network of health care professionals. It is wise to do some research about a prospective surgeon before you schedule your procedure, including any previous medical malpractice suits.

Check the following for information regarding the professional competence of a physician:

  • Maryland Board of Physicians: Provides current medical license status and any disciplinary actions against a physician
  • National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB): Database of medical malpractice payments
  • Information on professional certification status of medical professionals

It can be valuable to know whether a surgeon has been board certified in a particular specialization and you certainly want to know about any disciplinary actions. It is not so easy to find out whether your surgeon has a history of medical malpractice lawsuits. While the NPDB is supposed to be a clearinghouse of information about the medical malpractice history of any licensed professional, many physicians do not report their malpractice payments. You can ask your surgeon for a copy of his or her NPDB report — or simply ask the surgeon about any past medical malpractice lawsuits during your initial interview.

Having been sued for medical malpractice in the past does not have to be a deal breaker. Highly trained doctors do occasionally make errors. However, you should be cautious if you discover that a surgeon has been sued numerous times or professionally sanctioned. And if you suspect that you were injured because your surgeon was negligent or careless, speak with the experienced Maryland surgical error lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. immediately.