Is your doctor on probation?

Consumer Reports says information can be difficult to find

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of doctors are being disciplined by state medical boards for serious wrongdoing. But finding out who those doctors are can be difficult, a Consumer Reports investigation found.

Consumer Reports was able to obtain a list of the California doctors currently on probation. There are nearly 500 doctors on probation for dangerous doctoring or unprofessional behavior.

Their offenses range from practicing medicine under the influence of illegal drugs to sexual misconduct with patients.

Other doctors have been charged with negligence leading to botched surgeries and wrongful deaths.

“It’s a national problem. Thousands of doctors in the U.S. keep practicing even though they are on medical probation for serious issues such as drug use, sexual misconduct and gross negligence, making careless and sometimes deadly mistakes," said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project.

Consumer Reports' investigation shows how hard it can be to find out whether your doctor has been cited for substandard medical care or other issues.

Patients can check a doctor’s history at the Federation of State Medical Boards’ site, DocInfo.org, but if they find an “action,” it can be difficult to learn the reasons why.

Patients have to find and then navigate reams of hard-to-understand legal documents. 

User review sites aren’t much help either. Patient reviews can be misleading.

At HealthGrades.com, a gynecologist on probation for negligence, including taking out the wrong ovary, has a rating of more than three stars out of five.

Consumer Reports believes that it should be easier for consumers to look up the disciplinary history of their doctors.

Consumer Reports petitioned the Medical Board of California to require that doctors inform their patients when they are on probation.

The board rejected the idea, saying it would put too much of a burden on doctors and damage the doctor-patient relationship.

Consumer Reports advises patients who have been harmed by a doctor to contact their state medical board.

About the Author: