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Has someone filed a complaint against your physician?

New Mexico patients who may be looking for a new doctor have a lot of options. While the names of physicians might be relatively easy to come by, what is more difficult to uncover is information about doctors -- if other people have been satisfied with their service. If you know someone who has had a good experience -- or a bad experience -- with a particular health care provider, that can often go a long way toward deciding if that doctor would be a good choice for you.

But is there a way to tell if there are outstanding complaints against a doctor that were made by others? By and large, the answer is no. The state medical board maintains a record of all complaints made against physicians; however, by law, these complaints are kept confidential. This could make it difficult to determine if there have been any allegations of doctor errors.

While complaints about particular doctors are not made public, any licensure action that the board has taken is considered to be public information. It is searchable online at the board's website.

Complaints can be made to the state medical board, and doctors generally cannot retaliate against patients who do so. However, because complaints are not available as public information, someone who has been injured as a result of a doctor's error would not be in line to receive compensation for it.

For that to happen, a patient would have to file a medical malpractice claim against a physician -- but through the legal system, not through the medical board. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help people decide if this would be appropriate to their situation.

Source: New Mexico Medical Board, "Frequently Asked Questions By Consumers," retrieved Oct. 30, 2013

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