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How can you learn your doctor's professional history?

When you visit a medical clinic in Indiana, your doctor asks for your medical history, which is appropriate as it helps him or her to assess your health. However, what do you know about your doctor's history of practicing medicine? After all, you are putting your life in the doctor's hands; how do you know if he or she is really fit?

Ideally, medical boards should provide some oversight as to who practices medicine in their state. However, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a doctor may be able to avoid consequences of unprofessional conduct, such as inappropriate sexual relationships with patients, repeated surgical errors or improper opioid prescriptions, by surrendering their licenses in one state and relocating to another and continuing to practice. 

Unfortunately, you cannot depend on the state medical board to protect you. There are few, if any, laws in place to prevent a doctor who has voluntarily surrendered a license in one state from practicing in another, and even though there is an extensive nationwide database of troubled physicians in place, with records going back decades, most states never bother to check it.

However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from a doctor who is unfit to practice medicine. It can be difficult to research a doctor's professional history because only limited records are available to the public. However, you can access whatever public records are available through the website for the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. If you can, find out if your doctor has ever practiced in another state and look up the licensing board website for that state as well. This is important as states do not always share information with one another. The Federation of State Medical Boards also maintains an online national clearinghouse of disciplinary actions taken against physicians, and you can search its website as well.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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