Sooner or later everyone gets sick, so sooner or later everyone needs a doctor.
But finding the right physician is not always easy. Since people require different things from their physicians, it's difficult to provide blanket guidelines to find a good doctor. But there are some basic tips everyone can find useful.
A good first step is to ask friends and family members who have had good experiences with a physician.
Second, contact clinics and hospitals in your area.
A good doctor is a combination of someone with good medical skills and good interpersonal skills the patient can relate to.
Important Points ...
* Get references from family and friends.
* Ask questions.
* Be up-front about what you are looking for.
* A doctor's staff can be a reflection upon the physician.
* Payment for medical services must be considered.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT ...
* What doctors are covered by your insurance?
* What are the doctor's qualifications?
* Do you and the doctor communicate and get along well?
* Can this doctor provide what you require from your primary care physician?
The best way to find out if a doctor has these qualities is to ask questions.
Where did the doctor go to school? Where did they do their residency? Where did they intern?
Is the doctor board-certified in his or her area of specialization?
Patients should ask about after-hours coverage. Who handles it and how is it done?
Another important question is how often the doctor wants to see the patient. Do they want to see the patient on a regular basis or just when they are sick?
Preventive health services can be important to some patients. Does the doctor provide screening exams, immunizations and other such services?
What about office hours? Is the doctor's office open in the evenings or on weekends?
How does the doctor's office handle scheduling? What other services does the clinic offer? What hospital is the physician on staff at?
Many of these questions have no right or wrong answers. It just depends on what fits the patient's needs.
Patients should be up-front about what they are looking for in a physician and ask questions to find out if the doctor they are seeing will fit their needs.'
Sometimes it may take several visits to different doctors to find one that a patient can relate to and feels comfortable with.
If a doctor is inattentive, doesn't get along with the patient or the patient is uncomfortable talking with the physician, they may want to seek another doctor.
DOING A CHECK UP
Potential patients may also want to check out their doctor with the Minnesota State Board of Medical Examiners to see if any disciplinary actions have been brought against them. A past action doesn't necessarily mean a patient should stay away. It depends on what took place and when it happened.
Physicians are human like everyone else and can make mistakes. If the mistake was made 15 to 20 years ago and there have been no problems since, the patient is probably safe.
STAFF IS IMPORTANT, TOO
A doctor's staff can be a reflection upon the physician.
For example, a good doctor should have a staff member explain why a patient has to wait an exorbitant amount of time.
Patients in turn need to be patient, because emergencies can happen. The next time the emergency could involve the patient that once had to wait. Finally, payment for medical services must be considered.
Patients need to make sure doctors they are looking at take their insurance. If patients don't have insurance, they need to make sure they can reach a payment arrangement with the doctor.
Finding a good doctor is not an easy task. The right relationship between a doctor and a patient is different for every person. The task is further complicated by the fact many people don't regularly see a doctor.
Patients need to do their part to help doctors in the relationship.
THE INITIAL VISIT
When seeing a new physician, a patient should bring any medication they are taking and should be able to put in writing why they are taking the drugs.
Patients should also know any medications to which they are allergic, and the nature of the allergic reaction.
They should also be prepared to give the doctor a good personal medical history.
The history should include any past or present chronic conditions, any family history of diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease and a list of surgeries the patient has had.
Patients may also want to write down any questions they want to ask the physician.
Despite the difficulties, finding the right doctor can increase the length and quality of a patient's life.
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