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Doctor Accountability

Doctor Accountability

When physicians provide poor quality care, their patients are typically the last to know. Some physician backgrounds may be available in your state, but can you tell which ones have the most complaints, malpractice claims or disciplinary actions? Knowing the background information on your doctor could save your life.

Consumers Union Documents

Consumers Union News Releases

Blog Posts

  • California Activists Take a Deep Dive on Patient Safety

    Consumers Union Safe Patient Project staff met with a terrific group of California activists in Los Angeles this month to share successes and brainstorm plans for future collaboration. Here are five things that these extraordinary individuals have accomplished.

  • You Saved New York’s Physician Profile Website!

    Thanks to your support, we convinced New York lawmakers to keep New York’s Physician Profile website.

  • 11 tips for how to complain about your medical care

    Check out Public Citizen’s fantastic guide for where to complain, written by Alan Levine, member of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Network.

  • Factors to Consider When Choosing a Doctor

    What factors do you consider when choosing a doctor? Do you care more about having a doctor who communicates well or is it more important that your doctor has lots of experience and skills?

  • 3 Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Your Medications

    Learn the Risks and Benefits of Any Drug You Take Taking a new medication is a big deal. When a doctor recommends a new prescription, you should walk away knowing why it was prescribed and how you should monitor your symptoms after taking it. The more informed you are as a patient, the easier it will Continue Reading

News Articles

  • Consumer Organizations Request All State Attorneys General to Consider Ruling on Public Participation on State Medical Boards
    Source: Consumers Union, the Citizen Advocacy Center, and the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego (Wednesday May 6, 2015)

    Three consumer organizations call for state Attorneys Generals to take action based on a Supreme Court decision earlier this year. The decision could lead to changing the make up of medical boards (and other boards) to consist of a majority of public members rather than a majority of doctors.

  • To reduce malpractice litigation, stop making mistakes
    Source: The Hill (Monday March 16, 2015)

    A new Public Citizen report about obstetric safety in the United States concludes the U.S. “has a poor childbirth safety record, likely due in part to the failure of obstetrics practitioners to develop and adhere to standardized practices.”

  • Source: CDC Hospitals Don't Have to Tell You About Deadly Superbug Risks
    Source: Bloomberg (Friday March 6, 2015)

    “Hospitals don’t have a legal obligation to tell patients about the presence of pathogens — even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Recent outbreaks, linked to contaminated endoscopes at UCLA and other hospitals, are bringing this policy gap to the fore.”

  • New York can't let the bad doctors hide
    Source: NY Daily News (Monday February 23, 2015)

    The NY Physician Profile website Cuomo wants to eliminate “was visited 35,000 times in December alone — a clear case of the public making good use of its right to know.”

  • Why Does Cuomo Want to Shutter New York’s Doctor Report Card Site?
    Source: NY Times (Tuesday February 24, 2015)

    “For the last few years, however, New York State has provided patients with some unvarnished relief. It came in the form of a website called That website has been carrying information, good and bad, about most New York doctors.”

Research and Reports

  • Mapping the Terrain of Graduate Medical Education: A Patient's Perspective, Helen Haskell, MA
    Source: Journal of Graduate Medical Education (Thursday October 2, 2014)

    Helen Haskell (2014) Mapping the Terrain of Graduate Medical Education: A Patient’s Perspective. Journal of Graduate Medical Education: September 2014, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 437-459.

  • What to Do if You Have a Concern about the Quality of Care from a Connecticut Doctor
    Source: Informed Patient Institute (Tuesday September 30, 2014)

    This tip sheet explains steps you can take in your doctor’s office to deal with your concerns about quality. It also tells you how to contact places that regulate or oversee doctors.

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (March 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Friday February 28, 2014)

    Summary from John James: “Spring’s renewal of life has arrived in my neighborhood with robins hopping around and trees budding. I saw a spectacular red-bud tree yesterday near a bayou. One must hope that our country will renew its efforts to intelligently manage the way healthcare is delivered in America. As far as I can tell the non-system is not working well for anyone but a few medical specialists. This month’s newsletter addresses the following topics:

    • Continuing efforts to identify and discontinue worthless tests and treatments
    • The over use of Pap tests in older women
    • The failure of renal artery stenting to add value to optimal medical treatment
    • Welcome evidence that patient safety is improving in some instances
    • Trust and mistrust of medical guidelines
    • The case for less mammography screening
    • Ways smoking can be further reduced
    • Troubled peer review in VA hospitals
    • The case for improving management of obesity in very young children

    I might note that just as this issue was “going to press” the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story called “Preschooler Obesity Plunges.” It explained that there has been a 43% drop in obesity rate in 2-5 year old children during the past decade.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (October 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Wednesday October 2, 2013)

    Summary from John James: “These are frustrating days in our country because it seems that anyone left in the middle ground on major political issues is rare, or at least they dare not speak. As we chide Congress for its ineptness, we must acknowledge that we put those people there, and in most cases they reflect what we want.

    This month I was honored to have my new estimate of harm to hospitalized patients, which was published in the September issue of the Journal of Patient Safety (, picked up Marshall Allen of Pro Publica ( He brought validity to my estimate by asking MDs in the patient safety community what they thought of my work. I have marked his and other sources that wrote about the new estimate with an asterisk in my “SitesLinks” collection this month. There are many examples of medical care gone bad.

    October’s newsletter deals with 1) over-diagnosis of mental illness, 2) the secrets of the medical industry, 3) how unintended consequences can occur when physician performance is measured, 4) the death toll on women from painkillers, 5) the need to stop calling so many things cancer, and 6) the issues associated with high blood pressure and too much sodium.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (August 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Saturday August 3, 2013)

    This month is the 5 year anniversary of the first issue of Patient Safety America Newsletter. In those years of reading medical journals and writing to inform patients of the hazards of medical care, I have learned some difficult realities.

    Perhaps foremost is that when people want to believe that their healthcare system is safe and just, their opinions are not going to be easily swayed by data and facts, regardless of how reliable the source may be. Secondly, people want to believe that physicians always have their interest at heart; this naïve supposition is not easily replaced by caution when seeking medical care. Thirdly, most people are less interested in preventing their own poor health than getting treatment when a preventable disease has gotten the best of them. Finally, most people cannot view the healthcare industry in terms of how it affects less fortunate Americans – for them it is about me and my healthcare.

    This month’s newsletter speaks about questionable drug prescribers, important new views of salt and high blood pressure, cautions for those with sleep apnea, unstable relationships between doctor and patient, and finally why can’t we pay more attention to disease prevention.