“How do I find a reliable doctor I can trust?”
December 2, 2015
Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important health decisions you make. How should you choose a doctor, someone with whom you’ll be sharing some of your most personal information and entrusting with life-and-death decisions?
You are your best advocate. Period. Taking responsibility for your own well-being is the first and most important step you can take. Regardless of ultimately how reliable your doctor or team of doctors may be, there’s no substitute for being in the know and empowering yourself to the greatest degree possible, always.
Of course you want an exceptional doctor. They can be difficult to find, particularly if you’re only willing to see a doctor that’s in your immediate vicinity. There’s advice I offer relative to your general physical care, and different advice if you’re in need of a specialist, and certainly a surgeon.
If you’re like most people, when it comes to selecting a primary care physician, you rely on word of mouth. Friends, family, co-workers often offer up what you believe to be a decent suggestion. But you can go online to size up health care providers in your community by finding out how they rate. And if you’re going to ask advice, ask for a referral from a credentialed, reputable healthcare professional who’s more in the know than someone who may simply be being judged by their bedside manner. Here at Stanley Law we work many clients who are victims of medical malpractice. We spend a great deal of time evaluating so many different doctors and their history that we too can offer evidence and insight as to which doctors are reputable and competent, and those who are not.
What are you looking for when you go searching online for a doctor?
Online ratings, reviews
Reviews are only one dimension of your research. They can give you some general insight. Keep in mind that reviews can be skewed; they don’t always offer the most objective opinions and you can’t rely on all of them being truthful.
Credentials provide an important piece of the puzzle. Pluses include fellowships in specialty organizations and a medical school faculty appointment. To make sure a doctor is trained in a particular specialty, look for certification by one or more of the 24 boards that belong to the American Board of Medical Specialties (www.certificationmatters.org).
If you’re considering allowing a doctor to operate on you, has that doctor performed hundreds of these exact surgeries? Not a few, hundreds. If not, do yourself a life-saving favor and move on to select someone who HAS. It’s likely you’ll need to travel to a highly regarded hospital such as The Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General, etc. for your specialized surgeon. It’s your life we’re talking here. It’s well worth the time and effort to seek out the best at what they do.
Watch out for red flags!
They include malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. Even good doctors can get sued, but you certainly don’t want someone who has had a lot of malpractice claims. Does there seem to be a negative pattern in the online reviews you read?
Visit the office to meet the doctor. Ask questions relating to your needs, likes and dislikes. How does the staff treat you? Use your first visit as a litmus test. Some factors to consider: Does the doctor listen to you without interrupting? Does she fully answer your questions? Does she explain your diagnosis and treatment, and specify a date for a follow-up visit?
Be your own best advocate. If possible, double-check your doctor’s patient portal after visits to make sure your information is correct. If any information is incorrect, contact your doctor’s office in writing with the correct information and then check again to ensure the proper changes are made. In the case of any potential accident or injury, ensuring immediately that accurate records and information is being collected and recorded on your behalf is absolutely critical. If you do in fact have a personal injury case as a result of any car accident, construction accident, bad fall, any serious injury for that matter, accurate, timely records is a must; your case can fall apart quickly without them.
Keep a folder of your medical information and take it to all appointments. Your own health plan is another source of online information. Many have special designations for doctors who have met standards of quality. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (www.ncqa.org), a nonprofit group that rates and accredits health plans and medical practices, has a directory of primary-care practices that have been accredited as well.
Ultimately taking your health into your own hands, putting in the time to do thorough research, reaching out to those who are experienced in working with and evaluating doctors and their care, is your best bet to finding a doctor you can trust. Here are some of the resources you can additionally turn to in your search:
Joe Stanley of Stanley Law and his entire team have decades of experience in medical malpractice and have been working on behalf of clients across New York and Pennsylvania to help them get what they deserve. Medical malpractice is not a situation you want to go it alone on. If you or someone you love is a victim of what you believe is medical malpractice, please call us at 1-800-608-3333 or email us through our website where you can also describe your potential case. Your consultation is FREE.