How do I conduct background research on potential doctors/surgeons?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Don Black, Dec 27, 2001.

  1. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    I know that the various professional organizations like to keep the backgrounds of their members secret. However, I'd like to get some background information about my surgeon before going under the knife. Are there databases out there that can be searched that list a given doctor's credentials, lawsuits, etc? If so, where can I find them? Clearly, I will talk to whatever surgeon I go with personally. However, I'd like some third-party info as well. Thanks!
     
  2. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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    I would try calling the BBB or Consumer affairs in your area if they dont know they should at least be able to get you the number you can call.

    KyleS
     
  3. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    You could call the local funeral homes, and find out if this guy is on their Christmas list. [​IMG]
    Or, do a web search for your state's Secretary of State website; most have a section for professions that require licensure (I'm listed under Veterinarians in my state).
    Julian
     
  4. Tony G

    Tony G Stunt Coordinator

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    Don,
    I'm not sure what you're looking for...if you found that the surgeon you were considering had been sued, would you look for another one? As far as credentials, he (or she) can't practice unless they're licensed to practice medicine in the state, and most (but not all) hospitals won't let someone join the medical staff unless they are board certified (or at least "board eligible", meaning they are in the board certification process) The exception to this in many instances is that someone who has practiced in a hospital for many years without board certification before it was commonplace is "grandfathered".
    I'm not sure where you live, but many states are providing the information you seem to be looking for, for what it's worth (as you can probably tell, I don't think it's worth much). If you look on the web site of the Illinois Dept of Professional Regulation, you can look me up and see that I am in good standing and have no disciplinary action against me! Does that mean I'm a good doctor? No, although I like to think that I am! I've been sued twice, though neither one resulted in a judgement against me. Most doctors I know have been sued at least once; it's now a fact of life and a given in our profession. Many EXCELLENT doctors I know have been successfully sued, and are thus on record at the National Practitioner Data Bank, the listing that many consumer groups want made public.
    One suggestion is to find someone who has had similar problems and ask if they would recommend their surgeon. DO NOT look at who is quoted in the newspaper or who appears on the news...I could tell you a good story of an idiot obstetrician who has since been run out of town here, though he was the darling of the media. He spent more time doing PR than practicing medicine! The BBB/Consumer Affairs people wouldn't have a clue, except for their own experiences. Come to think of it, there's a lot in common with buying HT gear!
    On the other hand, maybe Julian's idea about the funeral homes isn't so bad. I can proudly say that I didn't get any Christmas cards from them this year. [​IMG]
    As a plug for my profession, let me add that you should make sure you get a good anesthesiologist...people never think of this! (anesthesiologists are good sources of recommendations for surgeons also, if you happen to be able to ask one.
    Hope this helps...I'll get down off my soapbox now.
    Tony
     
  5. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    Hey, Tony, what kind of RD (real doctor) are you?

    As a veterinarian, I get to do my own anesthesia and surgery, so maybe I should get paid twice?

    How about we set up a deal where you recommend me and I'll recommend you? Just kidding; no one need call the Feds.

    Wishing all surgeons(especially the ones who saved my life) a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

    Julian
     
  6. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    Tony,

    Thanks very much for the info. It let me unearth most of what I needed to know. However, does being a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist mean that the doctor can perform surgery (e.g., hysterctomies)? Or is a surgeon certification a completely different class?

    As far as litigation is concerned, I am well aware of the fact that we live in a litigious society. Indeed, my car lacks many of the features of its european counterparts because of this (grrrrrr). However, I am also a big believer in more information as opposed to less. In the same way that I like to read a BBB report about a retailer before I buy from them, I'd like to know as much as possible about my family's doctors before they operate on a loved one.

    I'm sure that even the best of doctors have lawsuits filed against them all of the time. And I would thus understand a handful of suits (even with some settled or won) during a 20+ year career. However, 10 lawsuits in a 5 year career would obviously trigger a warning bell.

    I can understand where you're coming from as a doctor. Opening the data bank to the general public has the potential to create unjust problems for good doctors. However, I think this can be countered by also including positive comments in the data bank that will hopefully exponentially outnumber complaints. I'm sure the data bank will be opened in my lifetime (I'm young) (look at credit bureau and mortage lending scores as litmus tests) it's just a question of shaping the presentation of data so that it gives a representative snapshot of a given practicioner.

    Thanks again!

    P.S. How would you recommend we go about finding a good anesthesiologist?
     
  7. Tony G

    Tony G Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you...I've had computer problems for the last day or so.

    Julian: I'm an anesthesiologist. My specialty is cardiac anesthesia, but I do a little of everything. I've often wondered how vets can do the anesthesia and the surgery at the same time. It's all I can do to handle the anesthesia!

    Don: There is only one certification for OB/Gyn, and it covers both obstetrical and gynecologic areas. That is not to say that some choose to concentrate on one or the other (many older docs drop obstetrics, since it can make for a VERY rough lifestyle). Just remember that board certification in any specialty means passing a test after completing a residency. The specialties differ as to whether there is an oral exam in addition to the written (anesthesiology has a very tough oral exam, while my wife, a pediatrician, had only a written exam) and whether certification is for life vs requiring recertification every so many years. Unfortunately, we in the medical profession all know folks who could pass any written test on earth, but have crummy judgement.

    Unfortunately, the data bank doesn't include good things said about you.

    You're right, of course, about the number of lawsuits being a probable warning flag. I just remember being terrified of being in there when going through my long suit, the one that went to trial (the other one was so ridiculous that the guy's lawyer quit early in the process)

    As far as finding a good anesthesiologist - we are often tied to certain hospital(s). My group of 14, for instance, has an exclusive contract with the large hospital in town, but another group has the contract at the smaller hospital. So, you're often "stuck" with the group at the hospital where your having surgery. With our group, each operating room is assigned an anesthesiologist, but any patient can request a certain anesthesiologist, often someone they personally know or who has taken care of them before. And, as anesthesiologists are good for surgeon recommendations, ask your surgeon who he would have do the anesthesia for him (her) or someone in their family.

    And many smaller hospitals don't have anesthesiologists, only nurse anesthetists, but that's another story (and soapbox!)

    Tony
     
  8. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    Thanks again for the info Tony!
     
  9. Tim Hall

    Tim Hall Auditioning

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    Don,

    I am an Ob/Gyn and can certainly understand your concern about finding a good surgeon. Probably the best source of info is some kind of personal recommendation. If you can get one from a doctor or nurse friend that works in the field, that would be optimal. Otherwise, recommendations from personal friends (especially ones who have have surgery) would be useful.

    Honestly, virtually all practicing Ob/Gyns will be board certified or else they could not be on medical staffs and take insurance. And, although a doc that passes a board may be bright enough to pass it, he or she may not be able to operate their way out of a paper bag. Personal recs are the way to go.

    Tim
     
  10. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    Tony G -
    cool info, always thought that would be a fascinating career [​IMG]
     

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