BEFORE READING: if you have been injured due to a doctor or medical provider’s negligence, contact our medical malpractice attorneys today to discuss the details of your case and review your legal options. We offer free initial consultations, have years of experience helping medical malpractice victims, and work on a contingency fee basis. Call 404-948-4314 today.
Need to Find Out if a Georgia Doctor Has Been Sued Before? Here’s How:
When choosing a doctor, it is normal for a patient to want to know more about the doctor’s background: where they were trained, their experience with certain procedures, and whether they’ve been reprimanded or sued before. The statistics vary, but a 2011 article from The New England Journal of Medicine reported that between 1991 through 2005, 7.4% of doctors had a malpractice claim brought against them. This does not mean all of those claims were successful, as the study showed that only 1.6% of doctors had a claim leading to payment.
One reason people want to know whether their doctor has been sued is that they think that a doctor facing a lawsuit may be careless or not good at their job. Being sued once does not necessarily mean that someone is a bad doctor. Even good doctors can make mistakes.
On the other hand, if a doctor has been sued multiple times, that could be an indication that the doctor is incompetent, careless, or both. If you discover that a doctor has been sued multiple times, you may want to consider finding a new physician. At a minimum, you should do further investigation into the doctor’s qualifications and track record.
How to Find if Your Doctor Was Involved in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for a patient to find out every single time a Georgia doctor has been sued for medical malpractice. Not all medical malpractice claims lead to a lawsuit. Also, many medical malpractice claims are settled without going to court. So if you’re just looking for lawsuits, you may not be getting the doctor’s full disciplinary background.
Georgia law requires that all medical malpractice insurers report malpractice settlements and judgments to the Georgia Composite Medical Board. A judgment is obtained after a trial and the judge or jury decides the case. The required report has to be sent to the Georgia Composite Medical Board within 30 days after the judgment has been paid or a settlement agreement has been reached.
One of the best places to search for a doctor’s prior medical malpractice lawsuits and settlements is their physician profile with the Georgia Composite Medical Board website. Once you’re on the website, select Look Up a Licensee on the menu bar. This will allow you to search for a licensed doctor and view their physician profile. Georgia law requires that the physician profile include the following information about prior settlements and lawsuits:
- All medical malpractice judgments or arbitration awards entered within the last ten years in which the amount awarded was in excess of $100,000.
- Medical malpractice settlements above $300,000 made within the last ten years.
- Three medical malpractice settlements made within the last ten years, if the amount of any one of the settlements was more than $100,000
- All medical malpractice settlements regardless of amount if four or more medical malpractice settlements have been made within the last ten years.
This information does not tell you the total number of times a doctor has been sued. First, the information is limited as it only goes back a certain amount of time. Second, it does not tell you about other lawsuits that were dismissed or that the doctor won. Third, the information does not disclose how many times a doctor has had a malpractice claim brought against them.
Because complaints and investigations by the Georgia Medical Board are confidential, you cannot determine how many times a complaint has been made about a doctor to the Medical Board. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an article in February 2018 that discussed the Medical Board’s secrecy rules and how those confidentiality rules can allow bad doctors to hide negative information from the public.
Search Federal Court Records
Another way to search for medical malpractice lawsuits is to search the federal court records on the nationwide electronic filing system, PACER, to find out if a doctor has ever been sued in any federal court. This may not be a very effective method of searching, however, as the vast majority of medical malpractice claims are filed in state court.
Georgia state courts are likely to have more information about other medical malpractice lawsuits, but they are not as easy to search online as the federal court records. Georgia does not have a statewide filing system. You would have to search each county’s records, and even then, not all courts have a searchable online database. If you do want to search state court records, you should try searching the county where the doctor resides or where his medical practice is located. Georgia law requires that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed in the county where the defendant resides. For example, if you know your doctor lives in Atlanta or his medical practice is located there, you could try searching DeKalb or Fulton County court records to see if a prior lawsuit was filed against them. Or, if the doctor lives or works in Marietta or Smyrna, you could try searching Cobb County court records.
Have A Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney Answer Your Questions
At The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C., we understand that people who have been injured as a result of a doctor’s error want to know if the doctor has made similar mistakes in the past. However, this information can be difficult to obtain without a lawsuit. If you have a valid medical malpractice claim and a lawsuit is filed, information about prior lawsuits and claims can be obtained in the discovery process.
If you believe that a doctor made a mistake that caused you damages, consult an expert medical malpractice lawyer at The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C., today for a free consultation.