Let Your Fingers do the Walking

Let Your Fingers do the Walking

One reference guide in which patients don’t want to see their physician’s name.

In the United States there are nearly 750,000 doctors, and the vast majority are competent professionals. But there are those questionable doctors, and the scary fact is fewer than a third of those physicians have had their state medical licenses revoked.

To help patients sniff out their physician’s histories, the Public Citizens Group, a Washington, D.C., based advocacy group organized to protect consumers rights, published 16,638 Questionable Doctors last March.

The 16,638 doctors listed have been cited for 34,049 disciplinary actions, according to the Public Citizens Group, including 393 physicians disciplined for the sexual abuse or sexual misconduct of a patient and 2,391 disciplined for substandard care, negligence or incompetence.

“Patients have a right to know about their doctors — if they have been disciplined for sex offenses, or substance abuse, or incompetence, or anything else,” says the book’s author, Dr. Sidney Wolfe. “Until the government opens the data bank, our analysis is the best way for them to find out.”

The federal government maintains lists, the National Practitioner Data Bank, with details of all the sanctioned physicians in the country. It lists all malpractice payouts and disciplinary actions taken against the doctor.

The American Medical Association lobbies to prevent unadulterated public access to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Some information is available through state medical associations, but the amount offered differs from state to state. The AMA says its reason for wanting to keep the file closed is to protect the reputation of physicians who have reformed themselves.

The complete set of 16,638 Questionable Doctors costs a hefty $307.50, but regional editions are available for $23.50. Contact Public Citizen at 1600 20th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20009 for ordering information.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Vegetus Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group