Dangerous Doctors – How can I know if my Doctor is A-OK?

You may have heard that the popular TV host and, more importantly, physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz, received a slap on the wrist from a U.S. Senate consumer protection subcommittee for extolling the virtues of “miracle” diet products that have never proven their efficacy. One such wonder drug is garcinia cambogia, which has been touted to boost weight loss by, among other things, “slowing the body’s ability to absorb fat,” “replacing fat with toned muscles,” and even improving your mood.Oz isn’t going to suffer much for his irresponsible behavior, which he contritely owns up to.

But what about docs who are guilty of shoddy practices that may have hurt their patients?

According to an editorial in a recent Bottom Line Personal, between 2001 and 2011 about 6,000 doctors in the United States had clinical privileges revoked by their affiliated hospitals, but have never had their licenses revoked or restricted.

If you are about to seek advice or treatment from a physician who is new to you, you just may want to check up on that doc’s status.

Here’s how to do it. Type your state’s name and the phrase “medical board” into a search engine to find the governing body for the state in which the doctor practices (example: “California medical board” got me to: The MedicalBoard of California is the State agency that licenses medical doctors, investigates complaints, disciplines those who violate the law, conducts physician …).

You can also look on the website of the Federation of State Medical Boards at www.FSMB.org .

A note of caution: Not every disciplinary action or lawsuit means that a doctor is unsafe. Sometimes lawsuits are frivolous but are paid off to make the problem go away and some disciplines are for minor mistakes.

But as David Swankin of Citizens Advocacy Center points out in the Bottom Line Personal article, you should worry if your doctor’s privileges were revoked by a hospital. “Hospitals don’t do this lightly.”