Consumer Reports pans Indiana’s medical board website

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Has your doctor been put on probation for misconduct? Been convicted of a crime? Lost a malpractice suit?

It’s not easy patients to find that information in Indiana, says Consumer Reports, the nonprofit magazine that ranks just about everything from cars to lawn mowers.

Indiana has the second-worst website in the country when it comes to providing access to disciplinary records of doctors, the magazine says.

As a result, Hoosiers face a challenging time getting important information.

Consumer Reports reviewed medical board websites in all 50 states for its latest cover story“What you don’t know about your doctor could hurt you.”

Indiana's website ranked 20 on a scale of 1 to 100. Only Mississippi was lower, with a score of 6. (See all the rankings here.)

The best state websites were in California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and North Carolina, the organization said.

“Patients have a right to know whether their doctor has been disciplined for bad behavior, especially when it could endanger their health,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumer Reports’ Safe Patients Project. “But Indiana makes it very hard to find out if a doctor practicing in the state has a history of harming patients or putting them at risk."

But Indiana licensing officials say that other state agencies keep track of some of the information in Consumer Reports’ grading criteria. For example, malpractice payouts are recorded by the Department of Insurance. Consumer complaints are reviewed (and held confidentially) by the Attorney General’s office.

Indiana’s Professional Licensing Agency also said it does not keep records of hospital disciplinary actions, federal disciplinary actions or convictions.

“The agency regularly evaluates ways to make information more readily available and easier to navigate for the public,” said Trent Fox, the PLA’s spokesman.

He added: “We are always searching for ways to stay up-to-date with technology and ensure Hoosiers have access to pertinent information on practitioners licensed in Indiana, which is why the agency updated all of its board pages in 2014-15 to be more uniform, complete and user-friendly.”

Consumers Report worked with the Informed Patient Institute, a nonprofit patient safety organization to review and rate websites.

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