Physician profile website omits malpractice data

An online database used to help consumers chose doctors is missing malpractice information for at least 106 licensed physicians in Connecticut, reports iHealthBeat.

Profiles posted on the state Department of Public Health's physician profile website are supposed to provide information on all malpractice payments made in the past 10 years, any felony charges and state- or hospital-administered discipline. But after reviewing the site, the Hartford Courant found that nearly one in six physicians who have made payments in recent years for harming or killing patients have no record of the incidents on their profiles.

For instance, the public profile of Hartford obstetrician Peter J. Doelger displays a clean malpractice history, even though he was charged $36 million in malpractice fees five years ago, after a delayed C-section left a baby with cerebral palsy, brain damage and blindness, notes the Courant.

The department's physician profile website had been shut down last March to integrate the data into Connecticut's centralized eLicense system. The profiles returned online early last month--minus malpractice information for more than 100 doctors.

Incomplete information on malpractice records can harm potential patients. Without accurate and timely information, consumers cannot make informed choices about their healthcare, Jean Rexford, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety, told the Courant.

Department officials said they were unaware of the omissions and are conducting a "quality audit to determine that the migration of physician profile data is complete and accurate," according to department spokesperson William Gerrish.

For more:
- read the iHealthBeat article
- here's the Hartford Courant article
- check out Connecticut physician profile website