Each year, Americans file approximately 17,000 malpractice lawsuits against their doctors. According to the American Medical Association, general surgeons and OB-GYNs are more likely to be sued for malpractice than pediatricians and psychiatrists. However, just because a doctor may have been sued does not mean that he or she is a bad physician. In fact, the AMA said in a 2010 report that 65 percent of these types of lawsuits are dropped or dismissed.
Furthermore, state disciplinary boards may sanction doctors for a variety of reasons including defaulting on a student loan payment or failing to renew a license on time. In a country where anyone can be sued for anything, it may be a good idea to get the facts related to a claim before jumping to conclusions. Patients can get the specifics of a claim through a state medical board or looking at court records.
Patients may also be able to get the information that they are looking for by doing an online search. The easiest way to determine if a doctor is the target of a malpractice claim is to do a search for that person’s name, the word malpractice and the state or states where the doctor is licensed. As doctors must be certified in each state where they practice, multiple searches may be necessary.
Not every physician error constitutes medical malpractice. In addition to the patient being harmed, it must be demonstrated that the health care practitioner failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care. An attorney representing a plaintiff can make such a determination through a review of the patient’s medical records and by obtaining the opinions of medical experts.