SETTLEMENTS, VERDICTS AND JUDGMENTS OF AT LEAST $25,000. The board originally proposed posting all payouts, but doctors argued that amounts less than $25,000 reflect so-called "nuisance lawsuits" that they say are often settled for expediency rather than merit. The medical board determined that 90 percent of payouts would still be reported.
MALPRACTICE PAYOUTS SINCE OCT. 1, 2007. By adding each year after that start day, the Web site eventually will maintain a payout history that will go back seven years.
KEY DATES, including when the incident occurred and when the payout was made. The information will not identify patients.
WHETHER THE CASE LED TO DISCIPLINE, based on the board's review of the care that prompted the legal action.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLAIN. Doctors and physician assistants who have made payouts can give a brief statement about the circumstances of the case.
But hey, a doctor's medical malpractice history isn't secret – after all court documents are public record. You just have to do the following:
- For cases involving less than $10,000 you will have to go down
to the District Court where they think your doctor may have been sued,
this may involve going to several counties to ensure you have covered
all of the possible jurisdictions. Not to worry since there are only
100 of these courts across the state. You probably want to call in
advance for their hours of operation
- Depending how each court is set up, you will have to request
for a search of all the civil cases filed against this doctor.
Hopefully s/he doesn't have a common name, and there are not long
lines. Each courthouse may retain records for different periods of
time. Some older records will be housed in archives that can take up
to several weeks to retrieve. Again, it may be advisable to call in
advance to get more information about how their county works. And sometimes a clerk will be nice and do the search over the phone, but I wouldn't count on it.
- If you want to make copies of the documents, it is $2 for the first page and $.25 thereafter.