How Do I Run a Medical Background Check on a Doctor?
Choosing a doctor is a serious decision. The last thing you want to deal with at the doctor's office is an uncomfortable situation that puts you at risk.
One of the best ways to ensure you're getting treatment by someone you're comfortable with is to run a background check on your doctor. Since 3,000 doctors are disciplined every year for things like negligence, incompetence, and sexual misconduct, running a quick check on your doctor can give you peace of mind.
How Medical Boards Screen for Criminal History
Before we get into how you should screen your doctor, it's helpful to know how medical boards currently screen physicians for criminal records.
Doctors have to maintain an active license granted by their state's medical board. Different boards have different policies when it comes to criminal records and discipline. It's entirely possible that doctors in your state are still practicing medicine with a criminal record or pending investigation, but other states are more strict.
There are 70 medical/osteopathic boards in the US, each with different rules. Boards in 36 states require doctors to pass a background check before earning their license and being allowed to practice. Unfortunately though, there are 14 states that don't have the authority to run background checks on physicians.
You can check screening practices in your state by visiting the Federation of State Medical Boards. If your state requires background checks for licensing, has access to FBI criminal records, and/or requires fingerprinting, then you might not think it's necessary to run your own medical background check. However, if your state has no authority to screen physicians, then you might want to investigate your doctor further.
How to Run a Background Check on a Doctor
If you decide to go ahead and run your own medical background check, you should check both county and state criminal records, as your doctor might have practiced in different areas of your state. You can also run a national criminal check to see if your doctor has convictions in other states. You should also check the national sex offender registry list.
In addition to conducting a criminal check, look into your state's medical board to make sure your doctor is licensed and in good standing. You can also use DocInfo, which is run by the Federation of State Medical Boards, and provides information on a doctor's medical school, licensure history, specialties, locations, and disciplinary actions.
Checking your doctor's criminal background record and license/disciplinary history should give you a good idea of their past; however, it may not give you insight into pending malpractices or other types of investigations. Try running a quick Google search of your doctor's name and various states s/he might have lived in. It might show if there are any pending suits that made the news.
So, How Do I Run a Doctor Background Check?
Since many states conduct background checks on doctors, you might not need to run one yourself. However, if you live in one of the 14 states that doesn't, you simply need to run a county, state, or national background check, check sex offender registries, and make sure your doctor is licensed and in good standing with your state's medical board. Hopefully the information gathered will give you the peace of mind you're looking for.
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