Physician’s Credentials

Checking Your Physician’s Credentials

Today patients face a daunting task- deciding on their physician’s competence, experience, prior complaints, education, training, etc. The internet gives a patient a powerful tool to look behind the fluff and shine of a well written website touting credentials and examining the facts.

Most states today make this information freely available. Florida is among many states that publicly post practitioner profiles providing education, training, hospital privileges, financial responsibility basics, and most importantly- links to discipline and closed insurance claims against the physician.  The Department of Health’s Practitioner Profile Search and Florida’s MPL Claims.  Entering your state and “practitioner profile” into your search engine will bring up a wealth of online government data about the particular physician.

In addition to governmental resources, patients can confirm specialty board certification by linking to the American Board of Medical Specialties (“ABMS”) which makes available a wealth of information about what physicians must do to meet the standards of a certified specialist: http://www.abms.org/ . As a rule, I would recommend that patients choose physicians who have gone to the trouble of passing the rigorous written and oral examinations to become certified in their chosen medical specialty. While no guaranty of bedside manner it is a minimum indication of knowledge as determined by a physician’s peers. Failing to qualify for medical board certification should be a “red flag” to the patient to look deeper into a physician’s training, experience, and complaints.

Finally, most patients are probably aware that simply entering the physician’s name into a search engine will bring back the locations of several sites where general credentials are described and patient ratings are aggregated. Health Grades, https://www.healthgrades.com ; Vitals http://www.vitals.com ; and Web MD http://doctor.webmd.com are just a few of these sites. Beware however, that patient reviews are subjective and represent only a small sample size of a physician’s patients and experience and are more representative of motivated patients than overall objective competence and should be taken with a large grain of salt.