It seems like everyone you know has some kind of horror story about medical-care-gone-wrong. It isn’t really surprising that medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Despite this, only half of all American hospitals have ever reported a dangerous or incompetent doctor — no matter how lethal a practitioner may be — to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) was opened in 1990 by Congress. Despite its long existence, hospitals routinely avoid compliance with NPDB’s by using loopholes (like only disciplining a doctor for less than a month, which doesn’t trigger a compliance issue) or just ignoring the law. After all, there’s never been any consequences to any hospital in 30 years for failing to report a doctor to the database.

In Texas, two out of three hospitals have yet to report a doctor to the NPDB. That failure allowed people like the notorious Dallas Dr. Christopher Duntsch, known as “Dr. Death” in the news, to move from hospital to hospital, leaving a path of broken bodies and dead patients in his wake until he finally ended up in prison.

As a patient, you can’t even look to see if a hospital is reporting to the NPDB — nor can you see which doctors are on the list. That means that even if your doctor is officially known to be negligent or reckless, you wouldn’t know anyhow. But the fact that doctors aren’t being reported means that, in essence, nobody is looking out for you.

You need to be as proactive as possible when researching your doctors. Even then, you may still fall victim to medical negligence. If that happens, find out how an experienced attorney can help you claim the compensation you may be due.