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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 Safe Patient Project is petitioning the California Medical Board to require doctors who have been put on probation by the medical board inform their patients about their status. Follow our campaign on Twitter by looking up the hashtag #DocsOnProbation.

Consumers Union Documents

  • CU letter urges ACGME to maintain limits on medical resident work hours

    In this letter, Consumers Union strongly urges the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) to maintain current duty-hour limits established by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and to reject calls to eliminate the current cap of 16 consecutive hours on the shifts of first-year residents.

  • Letter to CA Gov. Brown asking for veto of SB.117
    Source: Medical Board of California (Tuesday September 13, 2016)

    Consumers Union letter asking CA Gov. Brown to veto SB 1177, creating a secret state program for substance abusing doctors.

  • California doctors on probation as of 4-26-16
    Source: Medical Board of California (Friday April 29, 2016)
  • Links to State Medical Boards
    Source: Consumers Union (Wednesday March 30, 2016)

    Links to US state medical board websites to look up doctor profiles.

  • What You Don’t Know About Your Doctor Could Hurt You
    Source: Consumer Reports (Wednesday March 30, 2016)

    Thousands of doctors across the U.S. are on medical probation for reasons including drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and making careless—sometimes deadly—mistakes. But they’re still out there practicing. And good luck figuring out who they are.

Consumers Union News Releases

Blog Posts

News Articles

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.