The motto "They Can Sue, But They Can't Hide" greets you at the DoctorsKnow.Us.com website -- a website that lists anyone who has ever sued a doctor or a hospital for malpractice, listing "plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in malpractice lawsuits in Texas and beyond" regardless of the merit of the claim. Though the site has only been operating for a little over a year, it is reportedly chock full of information dating back for years. (Plastic.com story)
If you run a small business, particularly one that serves the general public rather than other businesses, one of your biggest problems is lawsuits. You own a store, some clutz slips. You're sued. You own a laundry, someone pours bleech in their eye, you're sued.
We think of doctors as being very wealthy but they're esentially small business owners. Some, like pediatrics, don't even make much more than a high-end secretary. I believe that doctors are mandated to have malpractice insurance. If a doctor can say that she screens her patients for known suers, not only can she protect her business from suits, she can also negotiate a discount on her insurance premium.
This is not some faceless HMO cutting corners on care it provides. The HMOs can get the information on their customers anyway, they've got resources for that without the website. The website allows small private practices to know who they're dealing with. Looking at it that way, I think it's great, as it allows a person to know who they're about to enter into a business relationship with. This does not affect emergency care or hospital care. It only helps non-emergency private doctors.