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All of us, sooner or later, may have to decide on a doctor or doctors in a time of medical need. That choice may well dictate whether the care required is indeed rendered. While administrative agencies charged with overseeing the profession, such as the Board of Professional Medical Conduct, sometimes investigate and take disciplinary measures against physicians that may result in the suspension or termination of their licenses, such actions do not succeed in weeding out all incompetent practitioners. Most people rely upon recommendations from friends and relatives, referrals from other physicians or, in recent years, lists of participating physicians issued by health insurers or HMOs. However, there is relatively limited information that is readily available and accessible to the public with regard to physician competence.

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