Patients can get the dirt on their physicians

You’ll soon be hearing patients discuss physicians’ dirty linens as they pick and choose from among their list of HMO-approved docs. New to the Internet is information about physicians previously privy to hospitals and state medical boards. Patients, or anyone else cruising the Internet, can now spend $15 to enter a World Wide Web site called Medi-Net (http://www.askmedi.com) and access information about their physician, including disciplinary actions and malpractice settlements.

What makes Medi-Net’s information different from information available from state medical boards is that data from all states are in one place. Information from other sources typically is limited to a doctor’s record in one state.

The National Practitioner Databank, which has been operating since 1990, holds the same type of information but is unavailable to the general public. Also, the Databank doesn’t faithfully keep up with reprimanded doctors who apply for new licenses in other states.