Frequently asked questions - consumers

How do I look up information on a doctor?

Can you refer me to a doctor?

How do I file a complaint against a doctor?

Can a doctor charge me for a copy of my medical records?

Can a doctor withhold copies of medical records?

How long must a doctor retain medical records?

How can I locate my records from a doctor who has moved, retired or died?

Can a doctor refuse to accept me as a patient?

Can a doctor terminate me as a patient?

My doctor has just been arrested/lost his/her license.  Where do I get medical care?

My doctor says he/she cannot prescribe to me anymore.  What can I do?

I think I may be going through withdrawals. What should I do?

My new doctor didn’t give me the same medicine my old doctor did. What should I do?

I can’t get my medical records from my old physician. What should I do?


How do I look up information on a doctor?

Use our web site to look up a licensee. We provide the following information:

  • name
  • license number
  • original issue date
  • expiration date
  • year of birth
  • specialty (provided by licensee; not verified)
  • medical school and dates attended
  • whether there are any disciplinary actions against the license (includes restrictions, probation, etc.)
  • Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate (controlled substances prescribing authority)
  • collaborative practices with nurse practitioners or registration agreements with P.A.s

The following information is not available:

  • patient complaints (confidential by state law)
  • malpractice case information in possession of the Board (confidential by state law)
  • whether a physician accepts Medicare/Medicaid or a particular type of insurance
  • whether a physician is board certified (see www.abms.org for this information)


Can you refer me to a doctor?

  • we cannot make physician referrals
  • you may contact local hospital physician referral lines or contact your heath insurance carrier

How do I file a complaint against a doctor?

See our complaints page for complete information, instructions and forms


Can a doctor charge me for a copy of my medical records?

Yes, although there is a limit to what can be charged:

  • $1 a page for the first 25 pages
  • $.50 for each page in excess of 25
  • actual cost of mailing
  • actual cost of x-rays or other special records

Can a doctor withhold copies of medical records?

  • a doctor may condition the release of copies on payment of the copying fees
  • a doctor may NOT condition the release of copies on payment of an unpaid bill

How long must a doctor retain medical records?

  • according to Board rules, "as long as necessary for medical and legal purposes"
  • ten years from the date of the last visit is generally suggested

How can I locate my records from a doctor who has moved, retired or died?

  • call or visit the old office and ask who has possession of the doctor's records
  • if you are unable to speak with anyone from the old office, check with the local hospitals, chamber of commerce, county medical society or police department; sometimes they will have information on the physician's whereabouts
  • if you know the physician is deceased, call the local probate court to find out who is the administrator of the estate (court records will list a telephone number); call the administrator for assistance
  • contact our office and see if we have been given any information (this occurs infrequently)

Can a doctor refuse to accept me as a patient?

Yes, doctors and patients both have the prerogative to choose whether to enter or terminate a physician-patient relationship.


Can a doctor terminate me as a patient?

Once a physician-patient relationship has been established, a doctor may not discontinue treatment that is necessary without having given reasonable notice and assistance in finding alternate care.

My doctor has just been arrested/lost his/her license. Where do I get medical care?

Your doctor still has an obligation to provide for your care. In some instances, your doctor will still be able to practice. If your doctor can no longer practice medicine, your doctor has an obligation to help you obtain care elsewhere.

My doctor says he/she cannot prescribe to me anymore. What can I do?

First, you need to determine whether your doctor has been prescribing you controlled substances or not. Drugs containing opioids, pain killers, sedatives, amphetamines, and muscle relaxers are often controlled. Your doctor may no longer be able to provide these medications to you. In most cases, your doctor will still be able to prescribe blood pressure medication, diabetic medication, and things of that nature. If your doctor has been prohibited from prescribing controlled substances, you will have to seek care from another physician.

I think I may be going through withdrawals. What should I do?

If you have a primary care physician, call him or her and explain the situation. Your primary care physician can treat you while you look for another provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, the emergency room can treat you for withdrawal.

My new doctor didn’t give me the same medicine my old doctor did. What should I do?

Every physician has the responsibility to take care of you to the best of his or her ability. That means the physician must make a judgment about what is needed to treat your condition. Different physicians may treat the same medical conditions differently. Ask your new physician to explain why his or her treatment decision differs from your previous physician's and to explain its pros and cons. Remember: your physician is always trying to do what is best for you, but you always have the right to seek a second opinion or seek care elsewhere.

I can’t get my medical records from my old physician. What should I do?

You have a right to your medical records. Your old physician should arrange to provide them to you or transfer them to the new physician of your choice. He or she may provide these at no cost or may charge a small processing fee. Your physician’s duty to you continues even after he or she is arrested or disciplined. If your physician will not transfer your medical records, please contact the Board of Medical Examiners at 334-242-4116.

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