RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An investigation made by our sister station CBS17 revealed there are North Carolina doctors with revoked licenses, reprimands from the medical board and even criminal histories. Now we are teaching patients how to make sure your doctor is in the clear.
When it comes to researching a doctor, patients differ greatly. Some people said they do little research.
“Not a whole lot, I usually get a referral from somebody I know,” said patient Michael Beard.
“I could’ve put a lot more research in it, but you know I didn’t,” said Sophia Douglas.
While others, like Jordan Paredes, thoroughly search and get references. Paredes is a registered nurse. She said patients often don’t do enough when picking a physician.
“I actually do a lot of research. I’ll go online and look up their credentials and reviews and things like that,” said Paredes. “I think it’s important to be empowered as a patient. Because a lot of people don’t know how much power you have as a patient to kind of move your care the way you want it to.”
The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) is responsible for the licensing and discipline of physicians. CBS 17’s Felicia Bolton asked NCMB communications director Jean Fisher Brinkley how the board ensures and regulates a doctor’s standing.
“One of the most important ways is that every license physician and P.A. is required by law to renew his or her license annually. And when they do that, there’s a whole host of questions they have to answer that would be a way for us to gather information about what’s going on with them,” said Brinkley.
Brinkley said the board also receives daily reports from law enforcement, malpractice carriers, various national data bases and patient complaints. If they find anything alarming, the board opens an investigation. The NCMB releases its findings online.
The board took public action against 174 doctor and physician assistants in 2018 and 104 so far in 2019. They suspended licenses and revoked medical licenses for sexual harassment of patients and felony criminal convictions. Those convictions include charges of DWI, illegally prescribing drugs, tax fraud, and child pornography.
We called the offices of every doctor with an indefinitely suspended licence in North Carolina. We confirmed they were no longer practicing at those facilities anymore.
Despite these findings, Brinkley says only about 3% of licensed doctors in the state ever face disciplinary actions. But she emphasized patients should still do their due diligence.
“One of our biggest challenges is that many people don’t know that we’re here … let alone know what resources are available to them,” said Brinkley.
The best resource the board offers to you is their website. You can look up a doctor or PA to see their standing with the board. You can also check to see if the medical board has taken disciplinary action against them. The site will also show if a hospital has a suspended license, revoked privileges and any criminal records.
Brinkley said it’s also important to check to see if your doctor is actually trained in the specialty they claim to know.
“An informed patient is a good patient. There are certainly no guarantees,” said Fisher Brinkley .
Checking the website can be the right step to making sure you and your family are in good hands.
To check your doctor’s history, click here.