How to research a doctor's training, license, and board certification

For most doctors, attaining board certification in an area of specialization is a routine goal. There are many reasons why.

• Some hospitals and facilities require board certification in order to approve a doctor’s application for admission to the medical staff.

• In some circumstances, health insurance companies require board certification for a physician to become in network or to be reimbursed for some types of procedures.

• At least a significant as these reasons, though, is the perception of competence that board certification provides to potential patients. Sometimes that perception is flat-out wrong.

All board certifications aren’t created equally. This is a fact that most patients don’t know.

For example, we are preparing to file a plastic and cosmetic surgery medical malpractice case in the Dallas area. Although the defendant physician advertised and held himself out as a plastic and cosmetic surgeon, he’s actually just a gynecologist.

Because this gynecologist never completed a residency or fellowship in plastic or cosmetic surgery, he wasn’t eligible to apply for testing to become board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Undeterred, this masquerading gynecologist advertised himself as a member of the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (ABARM).

The Texas Medical Board entered a disciplinary order against him for false advertising. Because the ABARM isn’t a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties, it hasn’t been approved by the Texas Medical Board for advertising of certification.

Are you confused yet? You should be.

Researching your doctors

Before settling on a new doctor, we recommend doing some basic research.

• Look up the physician’s bio or profile on the hospital or practice group website.

• Check the state medical board records. For example, the Texas Medical Board has a free searchable license database that you can access here. This provides useful information, including where the physician went to medical school, residency and fellowship training, hospitals where the doctor has staff privileges, board certifications, and recent disciplinary history.

• After determining the doctor’s board certification, the next step should be determining whether it’s a legitimate or pay-to-play board, and whether board certification is active.

Board certification verification

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find out whether a physician has legitimate board certification. The American Board of Medical Specialties maintains a free searchable database that anyone can use to do research on a physician. You can access it here.

When visiting that site, you may also want to check out a list of the vetted, recognized, legitimate specialty and subspecialty boards. You can find this information here.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor medical, hospital, or physician care in Texas, then reach out to a top-rated, experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.