How to find out about your doctor

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 1:12 p.m. CDT

(MCT) — No single source of information will tell you everything about the competence of your physician. But there are a few places to check for red flags. Go to your state's regulatory web site to look up a physician's license status and find out if he or she has ever been disciplined. Check court records for lawsuits. Many courts have online databases that are searchable by physician name, though for case details, you may need to visit a clerk's office or courthouse. Verify that your doctor is board certified with the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org. The online service is free but requires registration. For a fee, search the Federation of State Medical Boards, at www.docinfo.org, to learn if a doctor has been sanctioned by any medical board in the U.S. A service offered by the Association of State Medical Board Executive Directors at docboard.org/docfinder.html allows consumers to check board sanctions nationwide for free. Sometimes it's necessary to follow additional links to check individual state licensing boards. Try a physician rating service. HealthGrades, an independent health care ratings company, allows patients to complete confidential surveys on their doctors, the aggregated results of which are available for public viewing for free on the organization's site, healthgrades.com. ___ (c)2012 the Chicago Tribune Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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