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How to Research a Medical Specialist or Doctor

  • Published: 2010-10-27 (Revised/Updated 2015-04-19) : Author:
  • Synopsis: Information and tips on how to research a doctor or medical specialist including verifying a physician license and checking for board certification.

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"You can do everything from verifying a physician's license to checking the board certification through trusted organizations like the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)."

You can do everything from verifying a physician's license to checking the board certification through trusted organizations like the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

If you have a condition that is referred to a medical specialist by your primary physician, you may be wondering how to check the credibility of that specialist.

Make Sure You Are Seeing the Right Specialist

Many people are shocked to find that they are seeing the wrong specialist, someone who focuses on only one body system. This mistake can prevent an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Specialists are experts in their field. If they are unable to figure out what your problem is, they do not always think about referring you to another specialist. To make sure you are seeing the right specialist, carefully monitor and research your symptoms, and take them to your primary care doctor. He or she can help refer you to the right person to treat your condition.

Focus on Trustworthy and Credible Sources

With so much information online, it has become easier and faster to research potential specialists. You can do everything from verifying a physician's license to checking the board certification through trusted organizations like the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Research cautiously, as the growth of online information also means the prevalence of misleading or confusing information. Be wary of websites based in other countries and information alongside products that are for sale.

Here are some tips for obtaining specialist information online:

Locate your state's licensing board to research basic credential information such as board certification.

Additional information about your doctor may be found at one of the reputable credential sites.

If board certification is not listed on those sites, check separately to make sure your doctor is board-certified in the type of specialty you seek. (Note: some doctors are board certified in one area, but practice in another. You should confirm that the certification is in the right area for you).

Directories and ratings websites may or may not contain useful information, so use your best judgment or ask friends and family members for their advice.

Research Malpractice and Disciplinary Actions

It is also a good idea to check your potential specialist's history of medical malpractice suits or any disciplinary actions. In this kind of search, you should look for any unusual, legal or newsworthy information by:

Selecting a specific doctor to research.

Visiting your state's local licensing board and searching for your specialist by name or location.

The results will give you some basic information that you can use to learn more. You may discover that your medical specialist has a clean record, or he or she has settled one or many lawsuits. Chances are that this information is not current, so you will probably want to dig further.

Use this basic information in a search engine by typing "Dr. John Doe" in quotations to keep the phrase intact and add the words malpractice lawsuit or something related to find any news reports. You can also add the word "blog," as this may turn up additional information, including other states in which your potential specialist may have held a previous license.

Research Your Specialist's Credentials

Credentials are an important for determining your specialist's ability. Once you have narrowed your search, look up where they have attended school and make sure he or she specialized in the medical service you need.

Also research where they completed their fellowship program and whether this person has is continuing his or her education. You can visit your potential specialist's website or contact their office to find out if they are affiliated with certain organizations and inquire whether they stay up-to-date with the latest innovations in their field through publications and seminars.

If you live in the Dallas, Texas area and want to learn more about how our medical malpractice lawyers can help you, please visit the website of the medical malpractice law firm of Polewski & Associates today at

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