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101 Ways To The Best Medical Care
By Charlotte E. Thompson
Infinity PublishingCopyright © 2006 Charlotte E. Thompson, M.D.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFINDING GOOD DOCTORS
Finding the best general doctor and needed specialists is critical to good health. Many wonderful, caring doctors still practice, although many older doctors are leaving practice because of new regulations and overwhelming paperwork. General rules about finding the best doctors are:
8. Calling your local medical society for doctors' names or looking in the Yellow Pages can be harmful to your health. The staff at your local medical society is not allowed by law to give details about a physician. They may only disclose a physician's address, telephone number, and information regarding a specialty, if there is one. The best way to find out about a doctor is to ask other doctors or friends who have had experience with the physician. A few doctors are willing to be interviewed, such as the physician who will deliver your baby. Some doctors have Web sites. Other doctors advertise widely, but a large advertising budget is not necessarily an indication of a good doctor.
The list of the "Best Doctors in the United States" is not one I would recommend. It is often a list of the most popular doctors or those who get along well withtheir peers. A less social physician may be the one you want to see. Patients do not compile this list. Instead, it is put together by suggestions from other physicians.
If you are pregnant and want to find a pediatrician or family doctor for your newborn, your obstetrician should be able to recommend one or two good ones. With this recommendation, try to make an appointment to see if the doctor is someone you relate to and is on the staff of a hospital near you. While you are in the doctor's office, be sure you are comfortable with the office staff and that the office is clean and professional. It is important to check the hours and days that the office is open and to find out with which doctors the physician trades weekend and night calls. The doctor you have chosen may trade calls with someone you would not want to care for your baby.
9. Networking with friends and family members will pay off, if you are looking for a new doctor or specialist. If you find good doctors, spread the word among your neighbors, family, and friends. Good doctors may stay in practice longer knowing they are appreciated. We need to keep as many good ones as possible.
10. Asking a doctor friend or his or her staff for a referral to another doctor may give good results. However, beware of the doctors who are not likely to say anything negative about another doctor. Be careful too, that the doctor you are asking about is not the next-door neighbor, health club friend, or golf buddy of the physician to whom you are speaking. Social doctors may not be the ones you want to see, particularly if they spend a lot of time socializing at cocktail parties and drink even when they are on call.
A single, professional woman moved across country to accept a position in a large corporation. One of her first priorities was to find a good doctor and dentist. Her mother was still in touch with a college friend who was married to a doctor in the city. With this doctor's recommendations, the young woman found an excellent doctor, dentist, and other specialists as needed.
If you are new to a city and don't have connections, I would ask people at work, neighbors, and the doctors you had in another city. They may have one or more good referrals for you.
It is possible now to check a state medical society's Web site to see if a physician has had malpractice lawsuits filed against him or her. Remember, however, that some good physicians settle lawsuits at the suggestion of their insurance companies to avoid the time and stress involved in going to court. Because there are many lawsuit-happy individuals in the country today and some hungry lawyers, frivolous lawsuits do occur. There are lawsuits that should be filed when a patient has been harmed by a physician's carelessness or incompetence. Unfortunately, it takes some medical boards far too long to revoke licenses of incompetent physicians.
Boutique or Concierge Doctors
Some doctors are now restricting their practices to the patients who will pay a yearly fee from $1500 to as much as $20,000. For this, the doctors say they will be on-call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They restrict their practice to 400 to 600 patients. Not only do they ask for the up-front fee, but some bill insurance companies and Medicare. Thus, this type of practice is for affluent individuals or those who have multiple medical problems and can afford the yearly fee.
Some problems that can occur are if the boutique doctor decides to stop practicing before the end of the year or if there are problems with the care. When either of these occurs, a patient needs to call the state attorney general's office. However, these offices are usually so overloaded that action may not be taken.
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS YOU MAY ENCOUNTER
Allergist: A physician with specialized training in the treatment of allergies in adults or children.
Anesthesiologist: An M.D. with several years of additional training giving anesthetics for surgical procedures. Some specialize in pain treatment.
Audiologist: A health professional, not a physician, with training in detecting and aiding those with hearing loss.
Cardiologist: A physician with specific training in diseases of the heart. Pediatric cardiologists have training in children's heart disorders. These doctors are not surgeons.
Dermatologist: A doctor with special training in diseases of the skin. There are pediatric dermatologists with training in skin diseases of children.
Dietitian: An individual with special training in diets and specific nutritional needs of the body. Dietitians are generally connected with hospitals, but some work independently.
Endocrinologist: A medical doctor with special training in treating endocrine diseases of children and adults. Endocrine glands are those concerned with hormones such as insulin, which relates to diabetes, and the production of thyroid hormones, which relate to growth and many other important functions of the body.
Family Practitioner: A physician who has had training in many specialties and sees both children and adult. He or she has often has more years of training than a general practitioner.
Gastroenterologist: A medical doctor with additional training in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Pediatric gastroenterologists are usually found in large cities or connected with children's hospitals.
General Practitioner: A physician who treats both children and adults. These doctors are not required to have specialized training.
Geriatrician: A medical doctor with training in internal medicine who cares for elderly individuals.
Excerpted from 101 Ways To The Best Medical Care by Charlotte E. Thompson Copyright © 2006 by Charlotte E. Thompson, M.D.. Excerpted by permission.
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