How do I fnd a good Family Doctor?

Working as a Hospitalist means that I have no outpatient practice. Many of my patients ask me near the end of their hospital stay if I can be their Family Doctor. Of course, I don’t have that type of practice and it would be a conflict of interest if I did. My patients have had the opportunity to “try before you buy”, although we’d all rather it not be under the circumstances of a needed hospitalization. Nonetheless, how do you find a good Family Physician? Or any physician for that matter?

I always encourage people to seek out a physician that friends or family are happy with or speak of highly. The best referral is one that comes from someone with personal experience. You are able to ask questions about the office staff, billing procedures, nurses, and better yet, can ask exactly what the person thinks and feels about their doctor. Don’t underestimate the power of public opinion.

If the doctor you would like to see isn’t accepting new patients, a personal referral from one of the doctor’s existing patients is an excellent way to try to get your foot in the door. The longer the referral has been a member of the practice, the more likely you are to get an appointment. That’s also a good indicator that the person referring the doctor to you is satisfied with with that particular doctor. If you do get an appointment, make sure you mention that you were able to get an appointment because “patient x spoke highly of you and referred me to you”. Everyone likes to hear feedback about how they are doing.

As far as surgeons go, some of the same rules apply. Referrals from previous or existing patients is key. Satisfaction with the pre-surgical consultation, surgery, if needed, and post operative care are all things you want to know.

One of the best, but sometimes confusing, key elements of selecting a surgeon are their reluctance to operate. I would rather that my surgeon explain all of my options, including no surgery at all.

And always NEVER be afraid to ask for a second opinion. The doctor should be confident enough in his/her examination and diagnosis that he/she would feel another physician would agree with his/her assessment. If your doctor gets upset that you ask for a second opinion, get a new doctor! I also like a doctor who isn’t afraid to say “I don’t know”, but finishes their statement with “but I’ll find out”. To me that means they can acknowledge their limitations AND are interested in you and learning more.

And finally, when you do find a doctor you are satisfied with, be sure to refer other patients to them. Return the favor someone else gave to you.

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.


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