HealthGrades is an online ratings system for healthcare providers that allow patients access to their doctors’ profile pages and ratings from other patients. The idea behind HealthGrades is to provide consumers with research tools to make informed healthcare choices while, at the same time, providing a marketing tool for doctors.
The recognized doctor designation is based on methodology where the doctor is (vertabim):
- Free of a revoked, surrendered or suspended license, or a probationary status (since record keeping began in 2000)
- Free of federal or state sanctions (disciplinary actions) during the last five years
- Free of any monetary settlements, adverse arbitration awards, or malpractice judgments during the last five-years
- Board certified in practice specialty
Physicians complete their own HealthGrades profiles. Physician data is subsequently compiled through a number of private and public sources, then cross-matched against the profile. Quarterly updates are made to profiles, meaning if a disciplinary action surfaces it will post within three months of the final disposition. HealthGrades additionally gathers relevant board certification and medical malpractice information.
HealthGrades was founded in 1998 and now features over 900,000 online physician profiles. Patients who visit the HealthGrades website have the option of completing a survey that rates their physician. The identity and email address of surveyees is kept confidential. The downside is that there is no patient verification component to the survey process, so anyone can evaluate a doctor — patient or not. This means surveys can be completed for purposes of intentionally elevating or lowering a physician’s rating — perhaps by providing false information — thereby skewing the results relating to patient satisfaction.
While HealthGrades provide a valuable service with current information, it is not intended as a replacement methodology for doing your own homework. It is always important for patients to ask questions and to do their own research to get a better picture of whether the doctor they’re considering suits their needs.
Please contact a licensed attorney if you have been under the care of a physician who you suspect committed medical malpractice.