When it comes to choosing a doctor for your health care, it’s important to know his or her track record. Has your doctor ever been sued for malpractice? Has your doctor lost a malpractice suit? How many times has your doctor been sued for malpractice? However, it’s also important not to panic if your doctor has been sued. “Studies have found that 75% of doctors in low-risk specialties have faced a malpractice claim at some point in their careers. For doctors in high-risk specialties, that number skyrockets to 99%. A 2010 report by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that certain specialists, like general surgeons and OB-GYNs, are more than five times as likely to be sued compared than pediatricians and psychiatrists. The bottom line: the possibility of being sued is a very real for most doctors, and you may one day learn that yours has been.” Here are ways you find out if your doctor has been sued for malpractice. This way, you can get the facts and make an informed decision.

Check the State Medical Boards and Court Records

Each state in the US has a medical board that licenses their doctors. These boards also handle other matters, such as the suspension or revocation of a medical license. In addition, states have websites where you can review this information with no fee. The information may vary from state to state, but you should be able to find out whether or not your physician has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. You can also find information about past or present malpractice suits against your doctor. Check the website Federation of State Medical Boards to find your state’s website. Another option is to check the Administrators in Medicine (AIM) site. It contains disciplinary information in its DocFinder physician directory.

You can also find out if your doctor has ever been sued by checking your state’s court records. Some of these records are online or you can get a paper copy of it at the County Clerk’s office. And if you want to do a check on a hospital, check the State Department of Health Services.

Search on Google

Google can be a handy tool when checking on the track record of a doctor. Use the Google search engine to attain any information that may have been left out of the state medical board or court records. Type in keywords like the “physician’s name”, “patient complaint” or “medical malpractice suit.” Keep in mind that all physicians must be licensed in the state where they practice. If your doctor is licensed in more than one state, do a separate search using the keywords in each state.

Once you gather all the information from state medical boards and court records, you have two choices. Choose that doctor or look for another one. You may choose to stay or to move on to another doctor. It’s really a personal decision, but it should be an informed one. Be sure to look for patterns. If there is a pattern of a few lawsuits with big payouts over the past few years, that should give you pause. The good news is that you get to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your healthcare. Doing the legwork on checking your doctor’s track record is one of the best ways to avoid wrong treatments and wrong diagnoses, which could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Also, keep in mind that about 60% of medical malpractice lawsuits are either dropped or dismissed. It’s also important to note that some medical malpractice lawsuits aren’t for medical mistakes but for things like defaulting on a student loan or failing to renew a medical license.

The good news is that you’re in control when it comes to your health care decisions. Doing the legwork on the track record of your doctor is the best way to avoid wrong treatments and wrong diagnoses, which could lead to a medical malpractice suit. Be diligent and become your own detective when choosing a doctor or hospital.