MVP   Healthgrades Glossary

Please select a letter to view glossary terms that begin with that letter.

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Sanctions, also known as disciplinary actions, are actions taken to punish or restrict physicians who have demonstrated professional misconduct. HealthGrades reports state and federal disciplinary actions (if any) from the previous 5 years except when a physician's license has been revoked or surrendered.

Physicians with a disciplinary action in one state will often move to another state where they may have a clean record. Since HealthGrades painstakingly compiles disciplinary action information from all 50 states, you'll know if a physician has an action in more than one state.

What this means to you:
If a physician has a sanction, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is a bad doctor. Evaluate the information and determine how severe you think the cause and action were.

A settlement is a payment on a medical malpractice action or claim settled out of court. It is not a presumption that medical malpractice has occurred. Claim settlements may occur for a variety of reasons which should not necessarily reflect negatively on the physician's professional competence or conduct.883

A specialty is the branch of medicine in which the physician practices. A physician may have more than one specialty, or may have one or more subspecialties. For instance, a physician could specialize in Internal Medicine and have a subspecialty, or concentration, in Infectious Disease.

What this means to you:
To receive the best health care for your needs, consider choosing a physician that specializes in your particular medical issues. The specialist will concentrate on your specific needs and will be familiar with methods of treatment.

If you have questions as to what kind of specialist you need, your primary practitioner (a Family Practice or Internal Medicine physician) can tell you. In fact, some health plans require a referral from your primary practioner before you visit a specialist.

Spinal Injury Medicine:
Spinal injury medicine deals with spinal cord injury, also called myelopathy. A spinal injury specialist is a physician who diagnoses and treats injuries and disorders of the spinal cord that results in loss of movement and sensation. The spinal cord does not have to be severed for there to be a loss of function. Injury to the spinal cord can affect a patient's physical and psychological health, and the physician usually treats the condition for the lifetime of the patient.

Spine Care Link:
The Bridges to ExcellenceŽ (BTE) Spine Care Link program seeks to improve the quality of care for back pain patients by recognizing and rewarding physicians for demonstrating the delivery of high quality back pain care. For Spine Care Link Recognition, physicians must meet standards associated with processes and outcomes in caring for patients with sub acute or chronic back pain. The performance measure areas, developed by the performance assessment organizations, include:
  • Thorough patient assessment
  • Appropriate imaging
  • Appropriate use of epidural steroid injections
  • Recommendations for appropriate physical activity
  • Patient education
  • Shared decision-making with the patient about surgery and alternatives to surgery
  • Surgical timing
  • Post-surgical outcomes
BTE recognized physicians in this program receive one of three designations:
  • Level 1 Recognition means that the physician performance ranks "above average" based upon a total score of the back pain performance measures listed above.
  • Level 2 Recognition means that a physician meets all of the Level 1 Recognition requirements and meets high standards on specific key measures, which include appropriate imaging and appropriate use of epidural steroid injections. These key measures are critically important to the very good treatment and management of patients with sub acute or chronic back pain.
  • Level 3 Recognition means that a physician meets the highest standards of spine care and is using advanced processes to deliver all the right care to their patients. Level 3 recognized physicians are considered "best in class" in providing excellent care to their patients with sub acute or chronic back pain.
For Spine Care Link, a physician may or may not have received recognition as part of a practice or group. For more information on BTE's Spine Care Link program, go to

Sports Medicine:
Sports medicine is the field of medicine that treats sports-related injuries and many other issues regarding those involved in sports. A sports medicine physician works with athletes to prevent injury and illness, and to improve health and fitness. This specialist promotes the prevention of injury, and is knowledgeable in cardiology, orthopedics, exercise physiology, nutrition, psychology, emergency medicine, and other fields.