Your doctor has probably been or will be sued for malpractice. It’s estimated that 75 percent of doctors are sued for malpractice eventually, even those in fields where lawsuits are relatively rare like pediatricians and general family doctors. The rate for surgeons climbs up close to 100 percent.

This may or may not be upsetting, perhaps depending on whether you think it shows that you can’t trust doctors, or that you can’t trust patients. Probably, the best take-away is that taking time to research and realistically understand your doctor’s record of lawsuits is a good idea.

Florida doctors are licensed by a state board

The Florida Board of Medicine grants doctors their license to practice and can discipline doctors in various ways, including revoking their licenses. There’s an online search pagewhere you can check for actions taken by the Board against your doctor or (by using the License Verification search) for patient complaints against them.

If your doctor is the subject of a malpractice lawsuit, Florida’s Board of Medicine may show a complaint record about the doctor or even a record of disciplinary action.

But these online searches won’t necessarily return information about an incident that resulted in a malpractice lawsuit.

Lawsuits show up in multiple locations

The county clerk of the county in which your doctor practices keeps records of state lawsuits filed in malpractice cases. Call that county clerk’s office and request your doctor’s records, if any. Also, many counties maintain online search functionsyou can use for your research.

Google, Bing or other searches may bring up information about your doctor’s lawsuits. News accounts may have been written about certain complaints. Experiment with keyword combinations and putting quotation marks around phrases to get only results you want.

No matter where or how you search, don’t forget that many doctors practice in multiple counties and even multiple states. Be prepared to use the above steps for your doctor in Georgia or South Carolina, or in Minnesota or Hawaii or any other state.

Jumping to conclusions

If your doctor has been sued or complaints have been filed, don’t panic. False claims of malpractice do happen, either in frivolous lawsuits or just misunderstandings. Also, strangely, not all malpractice suits have to do with medical errors, but rather simple paperwork errors.

But if your doctor has been sued for medical malpractice several times or has had to settle or pay big financial damages, you might want to reconsider your choice of doctors. You have a right to do so.