How to Check Doctors for Malpractice

Before choosing a doctor, you may want to make sure they have not been disciplined by a medical board for unsafe behavior in the past.You also want to make sure they don’t have any malpractice lawsuit file a lawsuit against them. Malpractice lawsuits may be filed if a patient is harmed, injured, or killed as a result of improper medical care.

This article explains how to find out if your healthcare provider has ever received a complaint or filed a malpractice lawsuit against them.

How do I know if a doctor has a complaint?

Finding out if your healthcare provider has ever received any complaints can be a little tricky. While you may be able to see some rating or disciplinary information on a medical rating website, it may not be complete or up-to-date. In some cases, it is up to the healthcare provider to self-report the problem, which some people may avoid.

When you need to file a complaint about a healthcare provider

How do I perform a background search on a healthcare provider?

Searching for information about a healthcare provider can take some time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an answer right away. In some cases, you may need to talk to someone on the phone if you can’t find the answer online. To perform a background medical search:

  1. Go to the Federation of State Medical Boards Physician Data Center to view basic information on healthcare providers. This includes education and board certification, which are additional exams some doctors take to demonstrate their expertise. Additional information may include maintaining the status of a valid license and any actions against healthcare providers.
  2. Check your state’s State Medical Licensing Board and anywhere a healthcare provider has practiced using the American Medical Association Doctor Finder. If you find out that your healthcare provider’s license has been suspended, it usually means there is an indictable offense.
  3. Do an online search. Put quotation marks around your healthcare provider’s name and follow it with keywords such as “malpractice,” “litigation,” “sanctions,” “complaint,” or “suspended.” Start by using only one keyword at a time. You can use more as you expand your search.
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Keep in mind that there may be more than one healthcare provider with the same name, so please cross-reference any information you find.

It is important that you contact each state medical licensing board where the healthcare provider practices, not just your own. Malpractice lawsuits and disciplinary actions do not always move from one licensing board to the next.

How to make qualified judgments when choosing a doctor?

Keep in mind that evaluating healthcare providers based on their malpractice records or ratings may not provide the full picture. For example, some rating websites may indicate that the surgeon is “successful.” However, some surgeons will not accept high-risk patients in order to maintain high ratings. A record showing a higher failure rate doesn’t always mean a healthcare provider is “less successful.”

The same applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. While a malpractice lawsuit can be a red flag, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s justified. It is not uncommon for lawsuits to be filed for death or injury beyond the control of a healthcare provider.

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Try to be as objective as possible and focus on finding the health care provider, surgeon or specialist that best suits your needs and condition. Don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider about a malpractice lawsuit or other action you may find out.


Keep in mind that ratings from websites, or even filed malpractice lawsuits, do not necessarily reflect a healthcare provider’s skill or level of care for previous patients. Occasionally, low ratings and malpractice lawsuits are filed for reasons beyond the vendor’s control.


When looking for a health care provider, you may want to see if they have received any complaints or if there is a malpractice lawsuit against them. To search for this information, you can use certain keywords as well as certain reputable websites.

While the information found may be helpful, keep in mind that it may not accurately or fully reflect the health care provider’s skills or the circumstances surrounding the complaint or lawsuit.

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Don’t be disappointed if you end up with very little information after you’ve done your background search. This could mean the healthcare provider has a clean record, or it could be that the violation has been removed.

You can always ask your healthcare provider directly if there is a malpractice lawsuit against them. When looking for the best healthcare provider for your needs, respect and follow your gut.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is medical malpractice?

    Medical malpractice lawsuits are legally available for medical professionals who cause injury or death as a result of inadequate care. These lawsuits may be against individuals or institutions, such as hospitals.

  • What is medical malpractice?

    Three things must be proven in a malpractice lawsuit:

    • Treatment given does not meet standard of care
    • Patient Injured Due to Improper Treatment
    • Injury resulting in significant loss or other hardship
  • How do you report medical malpractice?

    All medical errors should be reported to the state’s medical board. The Commission will give you detailed information about what you need to make a complaint, which may vary from state to state.

  • What happens if I file a medical malpractice report?

    After filing a malpractice report, the state medical board will contact the health care provider or hospital and relevant insurance companies. If there is evidence of wrongdoing, the insurance company may contact you about a settlement. However, filing a report does not mean you will get a response, especially if the board determines that there is no evidence of negligence.

  • How to file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

    You need to hire a medical malpractice attorney. A malpractice attorney can advise you on whether a malpractice claim is litigable and assist you in filing a report with the state medical board.