Alabama doesn’t have a reputation for being “patient-friendly” when it comes to medical malpractice claims. In fact, just the opposite is true: Between 2004 and 2014, records indicate that Alabama ranks last in the nation when it comes to paying claims for medical malpractice. Roughly 90% of claims are unsuccessful.
That may have a lot to do with the fact that Alabama law doesn’t allow any evidence in a malpractice claim about past incidents involving the same physician. Evidence has to focus entirely around the medical provider’s conduct in the case at hand, which means that a doctor’s wrongful action is more likely to be seen as an outlier, rather than part of a pattern of neglect or poor patient care.
That makes it particularly important to try to research a physician’s record before you accept treatment from them. Again, however, Alabama doesn’t make it easy. Generally, the state doesn’t make a doctor’s disciplinary record public.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Try these tips:
- Check out the state medical board’s public file on the physician. Go to Albme.org to look for information such as when they received their medical license and whether that license is still active.
- Look at websites that collect patient reviews. Reviews.com and Vitals.com are two sites that allow patients to describe their experiences with a physician and rank them accordingly. You can look at the reviews for patterns of behavior that indicate a problem.
- Turn to Google. A quick search online can sometimes reveal a lot — especially if the doctor has been sued in the past. You may turn up a news story that provides more information than you’d expect.
Despite your best efforts, you may still end up the victim of medical malpractice. If that happens, take immediate steps to protect your interests. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process.