Volume 2  Number 4  May 6, 2005
Second Opinions

Finding, Choosing, and Rating Doctors and Hospitals

A Google search using the terms "physician and hospital information" yields 19.6 million hits. Here is a tiny sampling of useful Internet information sources on hospitals as well as physician profiling, the latter including demographics, training, specialty, malpractice, licensure, and disciplinary actions. Most states provide free information about physicians, usually through their State Licensing Boards, but profiling may or may not include malpractice information. For a complete listing of State Medical Boards, with direct links to the respective states, go to this page. One of the best general sites is this one. Direct links can be found to the following states: California, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington State. Health Care choices is a New York not-for profit corporation providing the public and employers with health care system information, including help in selecting health insurance, information on individual hospitals, and for New York State surgical volume information by operation.

Additional information resources include The American Medical Association Physician Select site, providing primary source-verified information on all 690,000 US licensed physicians (MDs and Osteopaths) from which consumers can select a physician or verify the credentials of a known physician. This is one of the most complete lists of licensed physicians in the U.S. All data has been verified and authenticated by accrediting agencies, medical schools, etc.

The American Board of Medical Specialties is another extremely useful site giving information about Board Certification of individual physicians. You will have to apply for username and password on the site, but anyone can apply, and the services, as are the above, are free of charge. Their direct phone is: 1-866-275-2267. The ABMS offers custom data lists, data file matching, and many other relational databases linking specialty, subspecialty, and demographics. Other websites offer physician profiling, physician, hospital and nursing homes comparisons and physicians, hospitals and pharmacies. These are commercial sites, and charge for services that are largely free on the official sites previously listed and elsewhere on most other medical information sites.

For information about patient rights and responsibilities, this official Government site is exceedingly helpful. The next newsletter will deal with this subject, and offer "professional" tips for patients. Stay tuned.

Martin F. Sturman, MD, FACP

Copyright 2005, Mathemedics, Inc.

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