Patients are now able to check out their physicians’ malpractice histories online.
HealthGrades, an independent health-care ratings company, launched the service in March at www.healthgrades.com. It lists judgments, settlements, and arbitration awards from the 15 states where these documents are considered public information: California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. Data from the 35 other states and the federal government, which maintains the National Practitioner Data Bank, are not available to the general public.
Before HealthGrades compiled the database, consumers had to go to individual state-agency Web sites. The company has already compiled “quality reports” on 700,000 physicians. These include data on medical training, board certification, sanctions by medical boards anywhere in the country, patient-satisfaction ratings, and more. Each report costs $17.95; the malpractice information is optional and costs an additional $7.95.
HealthGrades says its Web site gets more than three million visits each month from individuals who are researching and choosing physicians, hospitals, and other health-care providers.