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While the Internet is a veritable treasure trove of information for consumers looking to purchase any sort of goods or services, the same can’t necessarily be said for health care. In fact, outside of a few nascent websites, consumers — or prospective patients — must rely primarily on government-run databases to find information about physicians.
The problem with this, however, is many of the databases run by state medical boards decline to make otherwise highly desirable information such as complaints, medical malpractice suits, etc., available to the public. Indeed, a December 2014 report by the nonprofit the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute assigned 44 state medical boards failing grades for the quality and quantity of public information.
Things aren’t much better as far as the federal database is concerned.
Indeed, recent reports have found the federal database available to consumers looking for more information about a particular physician is actually rife with inaccurate — and possibly dangerous — information.
In general, practicing physicians here in the U.S. are given unique, 10-digit numbers by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), referred to as National Provider Identifiers (NPIs). These NPIs are used primarily for health insurance purposes, but can also be used by consumers to search a federal database that provides information about physicians, including their state license numbers.
These state license numbers, in turn, can theoretically be used to conduct a more expansive search at the state level or using one of the aforementioned consumer websites. This, however, is where problems can start to emerge, as many of these state license numbers are incorrect.
If you or a loved one has suffered any sort of harm due to what you believe was medical negligence, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. This simple step can provide the answers you need regarding the pursuit of justice.