Submitted by Dr T on August 29, 2010 – 9:10am
“If a doctor refers me to several specialists, how can I decide which will offer me (or my parent) the best care?”
Choosing a Doctor
You can do a number of things when deciding where to go. All physicians have a track record that includes:
- Is rated to give quality care
- Has the training and background in Heart Disease that meet your needs;
- Medical School education;
- Years in practice;
- Board certification;
- Has privileges at the hospital of your choice;
- Is part of your health plan, unless you can you afford to pay extra;
- Accessibility & coverage arrangements;
- Encourages you to ask questions;
- Listens to you;
- Explains things clearly;
- Treats you with respect;
- Has your potential doctor ever been sued?
Of course this information neither guarantees expertise nor good service. For that you want to talk to patients who have been treated by this doctor. Some with the best credentials (including those listed at doctor rating sites) have mediocre results and/or poor bedside manners. Others are just the opposite. Don’t be afraid to shop around! Bring family!
I was always amazed (particularly if they had to undergo an urgent heart operation), how trustworthy my patients were without any information about me. In fact, they were usually very reluctant to ask questions either about the operation or my specific expertise. After explaining the risks & benefits of an operation, often the only thing my patient would say was: “Doc, I trust you completely”. Of course I knew patients are often petrified when facing major surgery. The moment I left the room, most of what I said would be forgotten, a reason to make sure the family also understood what the operation was all about.
I have focused so much on risk evaluations in this website, because most people only afterwards think about what they could have/should have done.
While the absence of lawsuits is no guarantee of good treatment, it reflects to some degree good results, personal commitment, and a willingness to communicate with patients and their families. If somebody was involved in many lawsuits, it is probably more difficult to call it just bad luck.
- How easy is it to schedule an appointment?
- How long are the waiting times?
- What are your chances you only will be seen by the nurse, PA or the doctor after the first visit?
- What is your doctor’s experience with your problem, and how willing is he to involve others if things go beyond his level of expertise?
- At all times you are entitled to a second opinion – use it whenever you are uncertain about recommendations you get.
Hope this helps,