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Do patients have the right to know about previous doctor errors?

Medical malpractice, negligence and doctor errors are a frightening prospect for patients. These potential issues raise the question: do patients have the right to know if their doctor has been cited for malpractice or doctor errors? A recent study into this issue has found that over 77 percent of New York doctors who have faced citations continue to practice.

These numbers may be alarming -- not because doctors are immune to making errors, but because many patients may not know if their doctor is included in this number. The study found that there is a glaring need for transparency and that perhaps knowing their doctor's history is a vital part of patients' rights. There are over 100,000 registered doctors in the state of New York, and only a small percentage of this number has been accused of committing medical errors.

There is currently no law that requires doctors to disclose their malpractice history. However, patients are able to research their doctor's history online through certain medical databases. There are those who have raised the point that not every doctor has committed an error that should result in having one's license revoked.

Medical malpractice and doctor errors can pose a serious risk to the health of a patient. Even if a doctor does not have a legal obligation to reveal his or her malpractice history, a patient still has certain rights to understand. If a person believes that he or she is a victim of malpractice, legal avenues exist for these individuals to seek compensation.

Source: Buffalo Business First, "Report urges changes in New York, says patients deserve to know if a doctor is cited for negligence", David Robinson, May 20, 2014

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