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A doctor generally cannot practice medicine unless they are competent to do so. Each state defines what requirements a doctor must meet to be considered, and remain, competent. Typically, doctors are required to complete a certain number of hours of course work, as well as do on-the-job training, and pass grueling exams.
Below, you'll find three tips on what to do if you are concerned that your doctor may not be competent.
1. Check Your State's Medical Licensing Board
Each state maintains a public listing of licensed doctors, which, in most states, including California, is maintained online. If you suspect that your doctor may not be licensed, you can check your state's database.
If you discover that your doctor is not licensed, then you will have a legal claim stemming from the unauthorized practice of medicine, which can have some severe and costly consequences for the unlicensed doc.
2. Check Your Doctor's Online Reviews, and Presence
There are several online review sites that provide patient ratings and testimonials. If your doctor only has one or two negative reviews, it may not mean much. However, if your doctor has a litany of unhappy patients complaining online, you may want to reconsider keeping them as your medical provider. Additionally, if you search for your doctor's name online, and you get news articles about prior medical malpractice claims against them, this should be a red flag.
If your doctor's treatment has not gone according to plan, and your doc refuses to change course, you may want to consider getting a second or third opinion, and maybe even speaking to a medical malpractice attorney if the treatment, or lack thereof, is causing you further injury.
3. Do You Smell Alcohol, or Suspect Drug Abuse?
While doctors may seem superhuman in their ability to heal others, they are in fact human and susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction. Doctors, in particular, due to their easy access to prescription drugs, are relatively frequently found to have prescription drug problems which can interfere with their work. If you suspect that your doctor is abusing drugs or alcohol, you will probably want to change doctors and even report your suspicion to the hospital or medical board.
If you are injured as a result of an incompetent doctor's actions, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice or injury attorney to evaluate your case.