What Was Your Doctor Doing Before Treating You? March 14, 2010.

No one really knows what their doctor has been doing before treating them. Doctors may hide their past when it entails something they don’t want people to know.

Before anyone has a medical procedure, they are generally given a consent form to sign. The idea behind that form is that they know and understand any risks or complications of the particular procedure. "This form is intended to protect the patient from getting something done they think is too risky. Sadly, the form doesn’t have a spot on it for the doctor to admit to any medical malpractice problems in their past," explained Christopher Mellino.

Consider the hypothetical case of a doctor who performed a colonoscopy and did such a botched job that the patient just about died. Because the patient had the sense to complain, it was subsequently revealed that the physician was actually on probation for drug and alcohol abuse. "The patient should have been told this because the hospital knew about it, and despite knowing that this doctor nodded off during treatments and acted confused when dealing with patients, he was still allowed to perform risky medical procedures. Being in drug rehab twice was also another strike on the physician’s record," commented Mellino.

Pretty scary stuff, but it happens. Doctors are human beings and therefore tend to put a good face on bad things. Nonetheless, they are people we look up to and trust with our medical care. If we don’t know what standing a doctor has, how can it be said that we are giving informed consent?

"Finding out if a surgeon is in good standing may be as simple as asking the questions about prior lawsuits, suspension, license revocations or restrictions. Chances are a doctor won’t provide a direct answer to a point blank question that calls their competency into question," Mellino indicated. Check with the local physician licensing board by making a phone call, because not all the information is listed on a website.

In reality, most doctors have a sterling record, but the reality is that many still practice medicine who are not fully disclosing any of their past problems. There is no law that mandates a doctor has to tell patients of any disciplinary action they face. Why there isn’t such a law is a good question to ponder.