New Jersey News
Public Lacks Access to Malpractice Records—NJ to Provide Online Database
Although more than 4,000 New Jersey doctors have at least one malpractice judgment or sanction against them, patients are usually unable to access physician information. While the identities of these doctors are known to hospitals and regulatory bodies, the federal data bank is not open to the public. In addition, malpractice suits are often settled out of court, because it is generally easier and less expensive to settle a suit without fault than it is to prove negligence; in New Jersey, more than 90% of suits are settled before trial, usually with no-fault and nondisclosure clauses.
New Jersey is planning to become the latest in a growing number of states to provide doctor’s practice histories via the Internet. The New Jersey web site could be up by next year, but the information will be limited to claims and sanctions that took place within the past five years.
The Sunday Record of Bergen County found that a small percentage (around 6%) of New Jersey physicians have paid out more than half of the malpractice money since federal regulators began keeping track in 1990. While some physicians are resisting the disclosure of malpractice suit information, advocates have stated that it will help patients protect themselves.
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