There's a lot of information about bad doctors scattered around county courthouses, state regulatory offices and professional associations. There is even a federal databank that compiles the results of medical malpractice lawsuits and disciplinary actions before state agencies and hospital boards. But access to the federal databank is tightly restricted, largely through the efforts of the American Medical Association. It is not available to the people who need it most. As a result of these restrictions, people looking for a family doctor or for a specialist have no way to tell which doctors have been sued or disciplined for poor medical practice.