How Well Do You Know Your Doctor?

All Beyond Coverage May 24, 2016

What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger, and what you don’t know can hurt you. More specifically, what you don’t know about your doctor.

Thousands of doctors in the U.S. are on probation for drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and careless or deadly mistakes, among other reasons. And yet, these doctors are still practicing. And the worst part? It’s extremely difficult for patients to find out who these doctors are.

Hidden Records

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, keeps track of disciplinary action taken against U.S. physicians and other licensed healthcare practitioners. However, the only people who have access to these records are hospitals, doctors, law enforcement, insurance companies and a few other select groups.

A former associate of the NPDB even noted, “You can find out more about the safety record of your toaster and whether or not it’s going to catch on fire than you can find about your physicians.”

Similar information about physician licenses and disciplinary action is collected by state medical boards, but the ease of access to such information varies by state.

Reasons for probation vary in graveness, and the number of cases filed against a doctor does not definitively brand them good or bad. Some doctors may have more cases filed against them due to their willingness to take more risky cases, while some doctors may not have any because they only ever take one kind of case to avoid sanctions. But regardless, the patient deserves transparency.

Don’t Turn to the Internet

Many who try and fail to obtain physician histories from the primary source then turn to secondary sources: the Internet and online ratings.

Though you may believe that a patient review could be a great tool for insight into a physicians’ credibility, the possibility of bias and inauthenticity make many wary of such ratings. In fact, 2/3 of parents seeking physicians for their children believe that online ratings could be fake. Or maybe the ratings are just wrong.

Cynthia Mora, a woman in California turned to the Internet to find a good OB-GYN after moving. Yelp and Healthgrades had given Leonard Kurian good ratings based on many patient reviews, but did not blatantly disclose the malpractice and incompetence sanctions against him. Healthgrades does not show any lawsuits against Kurian, though the courthouse has a record of 18, one of which was filed by Cynthia Mora’s husband, after her death.

TopDoc Connect

TopDoc Connect is our patient-to-physician specialist matching service. In essence, we listen to a patient’s condition and preferences, and then match him or her to the best specialists for their condition from physicians we have vetted ourselves. These specialists have been credentialed through a rigorous and proprietary process, and certified by our specialty chiefs and medical board. We perform ongoing checks for incidents of probation and malpractice that may pop up over time to ensure you are presented with the best possible options.

In short, we do the research for you and present you with three specialist biographies to choose from. With TopDoc Connect, you know that you’re getting the best and right one for your specific needs. We ensure quality and objectivity, directing you to top specialists with no personal or financial ties.

We understand that the specialty care landscape is difficult to navigate on your own and strive to provide you with clarity in our specialty referrals. And once you see your options (complete with biographies, education, certifications, locations, and languages,) you can make an educated choice.

Never fear the hidden truth about your doctor again, and see the true best with TopDoc Connect.

“What You Don’t Know About Your Doctor Could Hurt You.” ConsumerReports.
“How Do You Know If Your Doctor Can Be Trusted?” CBS News.
“Parents Weary of Online Ratings.” Washington’s Top News.

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