This page will describe a few of the ways we look up information about doctors online. The links below will take you to websites controlled by others. We are not responsible for the content.
We usually begin a Florida doctor search by using the following 3 Florida government websites, and in this order:
Look up a Florida medical license (will
open in new window)
We start with this site to get the basic physician identifying information to be able to use the other sites properly. To search for a doctor here, you don't need to know the precise city or county for his office, or even the exact spelling of his first or middle name. Once we find the doctor here, this site gives us an exact name, address, and license number to help with other searches. When looking at the doctor's license information you will also see a direct link to look up the doctor on the next site on our list ( the Physician Profiles Site).
a Florida doctor's online profile (physician profiles)
(will open in new window)
This site offers several types of information about the physician, including board certifications, medical school attended, residency training, other states where licensed, community involvement, awards, committees, criminal convictions, and some discipline and malpractice information. Unfortunately, the information is supplied by the physicians themselves and the site warns you that none of the information is verified by the State of Florida, except supposedly the criminal background check. The absence of negative information about the physician on this site is not all that reassuring, but the presence of negative information may be useful. When you are looking at a physician's malpractice claims information on this site you will also see a link to the next site on our list (Paid Malpractice Claims).
Look up a Florida
doctor's history of previously paid malpractice claims
This site, which is maintained on the Internet by the Florida Department of Financial Services (f/k/a Dept. of Insurance), offers information on the claims paid by malpractice insurance companies for doctors, hospitals, and even lawyers in Florida. Very few states offer this type of information to the public. You should do your search in the category of "all" counties because doctors do move around within the state, and watch out for variations of both physician and hospital names. Hospitals seem to change their names frequently, and we have seen physician data sometimes listed using the physician's middle name, and sometimes not. We usually run a search just using the last name. While this paid malpractice claim database often has very useful information, unfortunately there is much information we know it does NOT have, including:
Open and ongoing lawsuits, or lawsuits resulting in judgments which have not been paid, can usually only be reliably looked up by going to the individual State Circuit Court locations in each county where the physician may have been sued. This of course is extremely time consuming. Small counties may give you some of this information over the phone, but most are too busy, and will invite you to come in and attempt to look it up yourself. Very few malpractice cases are in federal court (usually only VA related cases).
Other Sources of Doctor Information
To see a list of other medical board websites from states other than Florida = Other State Medical Boards
To get some very basic information about any physician, no matter what state she is in, we go to the American Medical Association Doctor Finder site. This site claims to provide basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States and its territories, including more than 814,00 doctors. There is a slow log in verification process, but searches can be done by physician name or by medical specialty. Results include generic information like address, specialty, medical school and residency programs attended, and whether or not board certified. It does not include any of the negative stuff, like malpractice suits or payments, or discipline history.
We sometimes will visit the site of the American Board of Medical Specialties to check on board certification. This is also a good place to learn about board certification requirements.
When physicians work for hospitals, sometimes we find information about them by looking up hospital web sites. Here is a link to a site that will help you do that for Florida hospitals. On occasion we are able to find information about doctors affiliated with medical schools by looking up medical school web sites.
Don't forget to "Google" the Doctor
One growing source of information that should never be overlooked is simply to do a general Internet search on the doctor using one or more of the popular Internet search engines, like Google.
We sometimes perform a free Medline search provided by the National Library of Medicine to see if the doctor has published any articles.
So, what if you find out your doctor has one or two paid malpractice claims?
There is a debate going on about whether the general public should have access to information about malpractice claims histories of doctors. The doctors argue that consumers are not smart enough to know what the information really means. Doctors would have you believe there are lots of paid claims that don't involve negligence on the part of the doctors. They argue that insurance companies often pay these claims just to avoid the cost of hiring lawyers to defend the cases. They also argue that great doctors in certain "high risk" specialties get sued a lot just because they deal with the most seriously ill patients.
To these arguments we say ........ balderdash. It is nearly impossible to find a lawyer willing to take on a borderline malpractice case hoping for a nuisance value settlement. If certain specialties get sued more often, it's usually because mistakes made in those specialties can mean disastrous results, as in anesthesiology, obstetrics, emergency medicine, and certain types of surgery. So they get sued more often because even simple mistakes made in those areas can kill and cripple patients. And if insurance companies paid nuisance value settlements on frivolous cases they would be opening the floodgates to thousands and thousands of frivolous malpractice cases being filed. Although we hate to attribute intelligence to insurance claims adjusters :-) frankly they know better.
Now having said all that, we also know that doctors (like lawyers) are ordinary human beings and even the very best ones can be expected to make mistakes during their long careers. At our firm we have successfully sued some very fine doctors who made mistakes they are not likely to repeat. Why did we sue them? Because they made mistakes which seriously hurt their patients. We would be willing to go to these same doctors for personal medical treatment (but they probably wouldn't accept us as patients). What we're getting at though is that we believe one or two paid malpractice claims over a number of years may not tell you very much, at least if you don't know the details of the cases. If you have a friend who was in a car accident and it was his fault, that probably doesn't mean you would never ride in his car again. On the other hand, if he was a repeated drunk, or hit-and-run driver, or was in several accidents over a short period of time, you might decide not to ride with him. And you certainly wouldn't let your children get in his car. When a doctor has several malpractice claims it is worrisome, but with only one or two, the devil, as always, is in the details.
While our firm started in Orlando and our main office is still there, for many years we have handled cases throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States,. To serve our clients better we have opened additional satellite offices in several major cities. When advantageous to you, we will also associate with other lawyers and law firms in some areas of the state to serve you better, and any such association will be at no additional attorney fee expense to you.
This site contains only general background information and is not intended to constitute specific legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship. Laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing. If you think you may have a case you should promptly contact a lawyer in your state with experience in handling this type of case.
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