Are Doctors Required To Disclose Information About Other Medical Professionals And Facilities?

Law Articles

In a CNN article posted in June 2015, a mother recounts how her infant daughter suffered complications after surgery that ultimately left the child paralyzed. After being advised by another person that there were an unusually high number of infant deaths at the medical facility, the woman asked her daughter's doctor to transfer the little girl to another hospital. Rather than be surprised, the doctor was only too happy to comply and seemed to know about the issues at the medical facility. This brings up an interesting question of whether a doctor is legally required to tell patients about troublesome treatment histories of other medical professionals and facilities.

What Doctors are Required to Disclose

Doctors have a duty to disclose a variety of information to patients. Many times the circumstances dictate what type of information is required to be disclosed. For instance, when discussing treatment options, a doctor is required to tell the patient:

  • What the treatment entails
  • The risks associated with receiving the treatment
  • What could happen if the person doesn't get the treatment
  • The treatment's success rate
  • Alternative ways to treat the condition

The doctor must convey as much information as is considered reasonable for a medical professional to disclose. For instance, aromatherapy may be considered an alternative treatment for a disease, but a doctor is not required to talk about this option if it would not be considered "reasonable" for a doctor to do so.

Disclosing Information About Others

In theory, disclosing information about other doctors and medical facilities would be part of telling patients about the risks inherent in any treatment they undergo. For instance, if the doctor knows a string of patients had suffered severe complications related to treatment by a particular surgeon, then he or she should disclose that information so you can make the determination as to whether or not you want to proceed.

In reality, though, doctors are not required to pass along this information. In fact, there often are legal and ethical barriers that prevent them from doing so even if they wanted to. For instance, in California, complaints to the medical board against doctors are not considered public information, and the board will not disclose that information to the public. Therefore, even if a doctor knew about complaints against another doctor, he or she couldn't say anything because to do so would infringe upon that medical professional's right to privacy.

Disclosing Information About Themselves

Possibly a more pressing issue, however, is that in many states doctors are not legally required to disclose previous medical malpractice or criminal histories to patients. Although many medical facilities screen healthcare professionals who will be working in their premises, it's not uncommon for doctors to be allowed to continue practicing even after committing crimes or losing medical malpractice suits. For instance, a doctor convicted of a sex crime against a minor was allowed to continue practicing in Connecticut.

It then becomes incumbent upon the patient to research this information for him or herself. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time and resources available to conduct research into every medical professional or facility they interact with. This can lead to the person accepting medical care from a doctor with a sketchy history or low rate of successful outcomes.

Even worse, you may not be able to hold the doctor liable for information he or she didn't disclose about a healthcare provider or facility. As noted previously, even if the doctor had prior knowledge of issues, the person may be protected by law or ethical guidelines.

If you've been hurt by a doctor's medical negligence, you should discuss your case with a personal injury attorney to determine the best way to proceed to achieve the outcome you want. For more information about personal injury law look at sites like


2 June 2015

Noni and the Accident

My name is Noni. When I was in college, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My life was never in danger, but I did break a few bones and had a lot of huge medical bills. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get involved with an attorney, but unfortunately, it came down to that. I used a family friend who is an accident attorney to get some compensation. A few years later, I was hit while riding my bike and had to go through the same process. I suppose I'm lucky to be alive. And it's thanks to accident attorneys that I have been able to put my life back together. I started this blog as a way to let others know just how much lawyers can help you in certain situations.