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How do you research a doctor's background in Ohio?

The Washington Post recently discussed how difficult it is for a patient to research a doctor before entrusting the physician with his or her care.

The Post shared the sad story of a man who needed spinal surgery. His primary doctor recommended a particular surgeon, so the man did some research on the surgeon but didn't find anything alarming. He proceeded with the recommended surgeon.

Unfortunately, his surgery was botched. Afterward, the patient learned that several other patients had malpractice lawsuits pending against his surgeon for botching the exact same procedure.

What more - if anything - could the patient have done to protect himself?

The State Medical Board of Ohio allows people to view credentials and formal disciplinary notes about physicians. It's a great first start, but it doesn't list informal disciplinary actions or medical malpractice lawsuits that haven't triggered action by the State Medical Board.

To use the State Medical Board of Ohio's licensee look-up tool, click here.

While lawsuits are public information, they can be difficult to find unless a news outlet has reported on it. Many lawsuits against doctors go unnoticed by the general public.

Another option is doctor reports from private companies for a small fee, usually less than $10. The quality of these reports may vary - they may end up only providing the information you can already get for free from the State Medical Board - so research what is included in the report before purchasing it.

Hopefully, in the future it will be easier to research the background and history of Ohio doctors. For now, the above tools should help you do some basic vetting of your prospective physicians.

Source: RRStar.com, "Checking On Your Doctor's Background May Take Some Digging," Christie Aschwanden, March 2, 2014

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