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Government-run physician tracking database useless, in many cases

A federal database designed to help Americans better track the performance of physicians contains so many accuracies that it cannot be considered reliable. The database, which is run by the federal Centers for Medicine for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is supposed to track physician performance by a 10-digit number assigned by the government, but in many cases, those numbers are wrong, making it impossible for patients to research a physician’s performance history.

In some cases, the inaccuracies may be due to typos when entering the information in the system. In other cases, though, the entire number is incorrect, suggesting more than a typo. Whatever the case may be, the inaccuracies in the database are unfortunate, because it is the only government-run database allowing consumers to look into a physician’s record when researching which provider they should see. 

Whether or not the accuracy problem will be addressed remains to be seen, though David Marsisdi, the founder of a private physician tracking database, has said that his attempts to alert CMS officials to the problem were met with a reaction of indifference. Perhaps it will take initiative in the private sector to give patients the resources they need to make better choices in the selection of health care providers.

Medical errors can occur no matter which provider a patient goes to, even with reputable physicians. When serious accidents do occur, it is important for injured patients to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

Source: USA Today, “Checking on your doctor? Fed’s database flawed,” Amber Hunt, July 3, 2015. 

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