MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
Multi-specialty clinics can provide medical and surgical care for you and your entire family. You should look for a state-of-the-art facility with the latest technology and a wide range of services.
For your main physician, consider a clinic with a family physician or internal medicine specialist. If you're a woman, you may also want to choose an obstetrician/gynecologist. Or for children, look for a pediatrician. All of these doctors are considered primary care practitioners, in that they provide overall management of your care.
SIGNS YOU'VE FOUND THE RIGHT CLINIC
- The physician's office staff is courteous and helpful.
- You are seen by the physician within a reasonable time of your appointment.
- Phone calls are not accepted during your visit so the physician can focus on you.
- You are not rushed through the visit.
- The physician treats you like a responsible, intelligent person.
- The physician listens to you and doesn't interrupt when you describe symptoms.
- The physician is well-informed about preventive measures such as nutrition, exercise and the use of screening tests.
- The pros and cons of medical procedures and therapies are clearly explained.
- You are encouraged to call with questions concerning your treatment.
Next, talk to friends or co-workers about clinics they prefer. Or contact your county medical society for names of physicians in your area who practice in the specialty you select.
Once you have some names, call the clinic and ask if they're accepting new patients. Be sure to check if they'll accept your insurance plan. Ideally, you should meet the physician and discuss your health concerns while you are well. This might be a good time to perform a routine physical.
BEFORE YOU GO
Prior to your first visit, make a list of things you want to tell your doctor about your health history. Be sure to mention:
* Surgeries you've had and when they occurred
* Current conditions for which you're being treated
* Prescription drugs you take (you may want to bring the bottle so you have correct information about strength and dosages)
* Name and address of your previous doctor
* Person to contact in an emergency
* Your employer's address and phone number
* Your insurance company and policy number
* Family medical history
Your health is important, so don't be afraid to ask questions about:
* The clinic's specialty or special areas of practice
* Who covers a doctor's patients when he or she is not available
* Whether other physicians or non-physicians such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant will participate in your care, and whether this is optional
* Special training the doctor may have in managing any medical condition you have
* Whether the clinic will provide care for others in your family
* To what hospitals the clinic can admit patients
* If there are any restrictions on the clinic's hospital admitting privileges
AFTER YOUR INITIAL VISIT
You should feel that you were treated courteously, that all your questions were answered, and that you were not rushed or dismissed. Your relationship with your doctor is very personal. You should be able to trust him or her with the most private situations or problems, and feel as though everyone involved in your care is on your side. If you're not satisfied with your experience, you can always try another doctor or clinic. Remember, the choice is yours.
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