Skip to main content

Researching Doctors - Doctor Background Check

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-01-29 (Revised/Updated 2015-04-19) - Researching a doctors credentials with a doctors background check to find quality health care and experienced trained physicians or surgeons. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World at DW Contact Info.

Main Document

Quote: "Just by looking at a doctor's credentials will not guarantee you will receive high quality health care. However, you can use several important criteria to find an experienced well-trained physicians or surgeon."

We know all physicians and surgeons do not have the same training and experience, especially in today's advanced medical health-care environment. No doctor will tell you outright whether he/she has been disciplined or had one or more malpractice judgments issued against him/her.

Why check a doctor's background

Researching a doctors credentials with a doctors background check helps find quality health care and experienced well trained physicians or surgeons.

Free Doctor Information

Is there such a thing as free doctor information? Absolutely; you can find free doctor information by contacting your state medical board or by browsing online. The question is, how much information can you get for free and how accurate will it be

Most state medical boards do not charge; however, most (if not all) offer limited background information on doctors. Very few establishments (less than a handful) specialize in providing information relating to doctor's credentials. That's why it's important to find out how credible the company is, and what type of doctor-related information they offer.

Doctors' Credentials

Just by looking at a doctor's credentials will not guarantee you will receive high quality health care. However, you can use several important criteria to find an experienced well-trained physicians or surgeon.

Tips:

  • If your are looking for a specialist, make sure he/she is board-certified in his/her respective field of specialty.
  • Make sure no disciplinary actions has been instituted.
  • Look closely at malpractice judgments, and how many have been brought against the practitioner (more than three is not good)
  • Find out if he/she is fellowship-trained in their specialty field. This-is usually a good sign.
  • Look for hospital affiliations or membership affiliations; the more there are, the better.
  • Physician or surgeon has been practicing medicine five years or more.
  • Research to see if they have teaching responsibilities at any hospitals etc.
  • Look for a physician or surgeon who has been practicing medicine for five years or more.
  • Research to see if they have teaching responsibilities at any hospitals or other medical institutions.
  • Find out how much of the physician's practice focuses on the medical condition/surgery you request.
  • Find out if the physician/surgeon has any awards, or is involved in his/her community.

How do I research a doctor

The Internet is loaded with many sites which claim to have information about doctors' credentials information. And yes, most of them do; however, you want to make sure you get more than just a doctor's license number and contact information. For more comprehensive information, consider contacting the following sources.

  • Your local library
  • Your state medical board
  • The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a non-profit organization comprising 24 medical specialty boards.
  • The medical society relevant to your intended physician or surgeon's field of specialty.
  • American Medical Association , if a member.

How to find a doctor

This is usually a simple task. Open up your phone book (Yellow Pages) and look for one in your area; or ask your primary care physician for a referral to see a specialist. Better still, go online - there is an abundance of free directories listing doctors.

There's no magical route to finding the right doctor. If you have a primary care physician just call him or her and make an appointment. If you don't have a primary care physician, try the route suggested above. Or, if you feel you need specialist care, you can save time and money by going directly to a specialist with your particular medical problem. In the old days most patients would ask their primary care physician for a referral. While this is still done, more and more patients are going directly to a specialist for their medical needs.

Tips on how to look for a doctor

  • Find out the history of medical symptoms or diseases that run in your family, or ones you or your family members may currently have.
  • Once you have identified the problem, let's say a history of asthma, you may want to find a primary care provider who is (double) Board Certified in "Pulmonary Disease" and "Internal Medicine."
  • Depending on how far you are willing to travel, and what type of doctor you are searching for, look for three hospitals near your home. Then go to Google and type in their names. Most hospitals have websites which feature a physician directory.
  • If you are looking for a specialist, such as a plastic surgeon, or a dermatologist, for example, use (example) your three favorite search engines and type: "Florida Dermatologist," or "Florida Miami Dermatologist." You may want to switch the wording around and try a few different methods.
  • Make sure your doctor is Board Certified, and that his or her respective field of specialization is listed, by consulting the American Board of Medical Specialists official directory of specialists, published by Marquis Who's Who. The ABMS directory is available at most public libraries, as well as hospital, university and medical libraries.
  • Next, visit the Federation of State Medical Boards (online) to see if any serious disciplinary action has been taken against the doctor you've chosen.

What makes a good doctor

Based on my extensive research over the past five years, my recommended criteria for finding a good doctor are:

  • The number of years since the doctor received his/her MD or DO.
  • Whether the doctor is Board Certified or double Board Certified in his/her respective specialty field.
  • In the case of a surgeon, a high volume of surgical procedures he/she has completed.
  • Doctors who have had one or no malpractice lawsuits, with no disciplinary action taken against them.
  • Doctors who are affiliated to at least one medical society related to their specialty.

Bottom line:

We all know there are no guarantees when it comes to receiving the highest quality health care. We all know there are shady doctors, and good doctors; and then there are those who are renowned for their expertise, who rank amongst the highest in their field. It's up to you to do your homework.



Related Information:

  1. How to Research a Medical Specialist or Doctor
  2. Effect of Patients Reading Their Doctor's Notes
  3. Do Insurance Companies Know Who the Good Doctors and Surgeons Are


Information from our Rehabilitation & Hospitals: Health & Disability Information section - (Full List).


     What will I receive?

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.


  1. New Approach to Studying Chromosomes' Centers May Reveal Link to Down Syndrome and More
  2. Social Mobile Gaming Boosts Rehabilitation for Patients with Physical Disabilities
  3. Rebuilding Spinal Cords with Energetic Polymer Scaffold
  4. Nonprofit Disability Solutions Connects Jobseekers with Top Companies




Citation