Monday, February 28, 2011
The best way of beginning the search is by asking your doctor. To start with, your doctor knows you and your situation better than any other physician, also since most doctors are aware of the accomplishments of "super-specialists" who practice at large university hospitals or research based facilities, your doctor can help you identify there experts. If you can find a book relating to your problem, then the author (if he is a doctor) is likely to be a good choice. The other option is to find the name of a doctor or the head of a clinic or department which is actively publishing their medical research in this field (you can easily do this by doing a Medline search). This doctor (or the head of the clinic) is likely to be an authority in the subject, and will be well-informed of the latest advances in the field. Many patients naively assume that all they need to do to get good medical care is to make a beeline for the west. However, do not automatically assume that just because you go to the USA, the UK or Germany, you will find a competent doctor - you need to do your homework thoroughly before making the trip!
Saturday, February 26, 2011
In contrast, a bad doctor is one who:
* Does not value your time, and makes you wait interminably on a routine basis
* Is more interested in treating your reports than in treating you
* Does not spend enough time with you
* Seems to be too busy and rushed all the time
* Orders tests whether or not they are needed
* Does not explain your options to you
* Discourages questions or refuses to answer them
* Promises too much.
* Makes remarks like "that's my secret."
* Doesn't explain clearly what he is doing during treatment. Sometimes, if you are a victim of a rare or complex problem, you may need to find a “Doctor’s Doctor" i.e. the best doctor in the city, country or the world for your particular problem. How do you go about locating such a doctor?
Friday, February 25, 2011
At this stage, one may well pose the question: what are the attributes of a perfect doctor? In my opinion, a perfect doctor is one who:
* is respectful and treats you with dignity;
* makes you feel welcome;
* treats more than the symptoms;
* recognizes the expertise of the patient;
* listens to you, explains the relevant facts, asks you questions and answers your questions;
* makes home visits if you require them, or arranges for another doctor to visit you after hours;
* uses pictures and diagrams to explain complex medical terms;
* explains everything, including diagnosis, procedures, treatment and what you can expect in the future;
* is easy to talk to and gives you clear - cut information;
* is open to discussion about alternative systems and is willing to refer you to say, a natural therapist;
* is interested in you, is down-to-earth and treats you as an equal;
* prescribes medication that you can afford;
* fits you in if you are really sick despite a tight schedule ;
* is up-to-date with the relevant information;
* refers to various sources (e.g., books, journals, internet )to clarify information;
* refers you to an appropriate specialist when required;
* refers you to other support services or self-help groups;
* phones back when additional information or tests results are obtained; and
* gives adequate consultation time.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Useful criteria to consider while selecting a doctor are as follows:
* Is the location of the doctor's clinic important? (In other words, How far do I have to travel to see the doctor? Is it convenient for me? Is there parking space?)
* Is the hospital to which the doctor admits patients important to me?
* Are factors such as the age, sex, race, and religion of the doctor important?
* Do I prefer a solo consultation or a group practice?
* Do I have to choose a doctor who is covered by my insurance plan?
* Is the doctor duly qualified and in which field? For example, a patient with a heart problem may prefer to see a cardiologist, rather than a general physician.
* What days/hours does the doctor see patients? Are the timings convenient to me?
* Does the doctor ever make house calls?
* How much in advance do I have to make appointments?
* What is the length of an average visit?
* In case of an emergency, how fast can I see the doctor?
* Who takes care of patients after hours or when the doctor is away?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
While looking for the ideal doctor, beware of quacks! While many of us tend to be overawed by a long list of alphabets behind the doctor's name, you need to remember that not all of them are legitimate degrees. For example, many doctors will use the 'embellishments' FICA (USA) and FRSH (London) to give the impression that they have been trained abroad. These acronyms are not qualifications- they merely indicate memberships in a society abroad, which are open to anyone- even a barber- on payment of a nominal fee, can acquire such memberships!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
A concerned doctor will organize the clinic and its functioning so as to minimize your visits- for example: blood samples can be collected in the clinic itself, to be forwarded to a reliable laboratory, so that you don't need to go there yourself. Similarly, many obstetricians provide the facility for ultrasound scans in the clinic itself, so that patients need not run around from one place to another.
Monday, February 21, 2011
During the first consultation, not only should the doctor get to know you and your medical problems by examining you, but you should also get to know a lot about him. Such a initial assessment is important in answering the following vital questions: Are you comfortable with him? Does he explain the details properly? Does he use relevant teaching aids? Does he ask for your views? Does he listen to you carefully?
Saturday, February 19, 2011
While it is true that many mediocre doctors flaunt posh clinics, the setting in which the doctor functions can reveal a lot about him. Is the clinic located in a decent building? Is public access easy? Has the doctor bothered to provide the basic amenities you need (e.g., drinking water, comfortable seating)? What kind of reading material is kept in the waiting area? (Old and torn magazines should qualify as a negative mark. Patient educational literature and current issues of health magazines indicate that the doctor respects your waiting time and wants to use it to educate you). Are the office staff members helpful? How do they answer the telephone? How do they treat other patients? You can learn a lot about a doctor and his practice from the personality of his employees: remember that efficient, caring physicians tend to hire competent, friendly personnel!
Friday, February 18, 2011
The best time to find a doctor is when you don't need one! This statement may seem paradoxical, but finding the right doctor when you are ill becomes much more difficult, because of the stress of the illness - as well as the pressure of time. Ask your friends for recommendations. A good source of referrals can be nurses and other paramedical staff. If you have a friend who is a doctor, seek his advice as well.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Primary care physician will oversee your overall medical care
Your primary-care physician should be someone who will coordinate and oversee your overall medical care, referring you to a specialist only if needed. It is not usually a good idea to consult the "top" specialist for every problem, though this seems to have become fashionable these days- for example, rushing to a neurologist for a headache such a step can actually lead to your getting poor care! Specialists often order unnecessary tests (which could be expensive and painful) to rule out rare diseases (after all, they are specialists, and they cannot afford to overlook any possibility, however, remote it may be, while making a diagnosis!).
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
An assurance of continued health may be the most valuable benefit of teaming up with a good primary care physician. Your lifestyle plays a major role in shaping your health and well being in the long run. You, in tandem with your doctor, can define your health goals, analyze your habits and get started on the basics to maintain or improve your health, now and in the future. Your working relationship with your doctor can help prevent serious illness from developing down the line apart from enhancing your well-being, the quality of your life, and your independence for years to come - the biggest benefit of all.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Ideally, a primary care doctor can offer you the following benefits:
* A good starting point in the healthcare system. Whatever your concern or problem may be, your primary care doctor will either be able to either treat it or determine precisely when and where to send you for specialized help. In either case, you have the distinct advantage of a physician's expertise, and any trips through the medical 'maze' will be less confusing for you...and less of a hassle.
* Preventive healthcare. Your primary care doctor can help you with disease prevention, as well as prompt intervention during any illness.
* Continuity of care. You and your doctor can develop and sustain an on going health partnership. He will get to know your concerns, and you won't have to repeat your history each time you fall ill or need treatment. Your primary care doctor will know you as well as any chronic problems or potential troubles you may be facing. He will also be familiar with your family history.
* One stops shopping. You can consult the same doctor for a variety of conditions, and often, he can treat both you and your family. Your family doctor can take you and your family through pregnancy, childbirth and childcare; instilling the concept of good health at an early age.
* Lower cost and convenience. Primary care doctors generally serve large populations of patients, so they encounter and become familiar with managing the most common medical maladies. They have been trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions cost- effectively. And, in most cases, it's easier to gain asses to a primary care doctor than a specialist, since general practices are usually geared up for maximum efficiency.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Choosing a good primary care doctor is perhaps the most important step you can take to insure that you get good medical care. A primary care doctor is much more than a quick fix 'craftsman' for an acute illness; he can become your healthcare partner in the long haul...helping you to establish your health goals and periodically evaluating how you're doing while treating any illnesses that come up along the way.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
First of all, you need to find a primary-care doctor; i.e., someone who will provide medical care for your whole family; carry out regular checkups; and treat common illnesses. Such a doctor is a usually a general practitioner (also known as a family physician in today's trendy world) or a general physician. Women may prefer a gynecologist, and for your children you may choose to go to a pediatrician. A primary care doctor is trained to recognize common health problems in the patient as a whole; in other words, his "specialty" is comprehensive care of a patient, either on a short or long-term basis.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The perfect doctor would treat you as an intelligent person, have plenty of time, as well as infinite wisdom, charge low fees, be totally honest yet compassionate, have a conveniently located clinic and understand your emotional as well as medical problems. While you may never find such a doctor, you need to keep your picture of your ideal doctor in your mind when you are looking for the physician of your choice.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
All of us hope never to fall ill, but this would be wishful thinking. When we do fall ill, we expect our doctor to be able to help us to tide over the crisis. However, it is a sad fact of life that most of us spend more time selecting a hairstylist than we do in choosing a doctor! Such an anomalous situation often results in our being unhappy with the medical care we receive. Invariably, patients stick to one doctor, even when they are not very happy with him, simply because their family has been going to him for years; or because "he knows my case". Others select a doctor on the basis of capricious reasons; for instance, because "he treated my cousin's friend's case successfully" or because "he is supposed to be the best." However, such reasons do not lead to efficient ways of finding a good doctor.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
For instance, doctors dislike patients who:
* Expect to be treated on a priority basis.
* Are always late.
* Waste time needlessly.
* Ask the same questions endlessly.
* Think they know all the answers.
* Do not value the doctor's privacy or personal time.
* Do not follow instructions.
* Go 'doctor shopping' i.e., change doctors all the time.
* Don't pay their fees on time. It's always helpful to put yourself in the other person's shoes; i.e., to see things from your doctor's point of view! The ideal patient would be one who:
* Comes to appointments on time, or is thoughtful enough to phone to cancel them.
* Tries to explain exactly what's bothering him; i.e., he can express his anxieties and apprehensions clearly.
* Answers questions honestly.
* Volunteers any important information that the doctor may not specifically ask about, including family history.
* Lets the doctor know if cannot follow his directions and specifies the reasons why.
* Takes medications as directed, strictly adhering to the dose schedule.
* Expresses his dissatisfaction in a courteous manner
Try to do your best to become an ideal patient, and learn to take an active interest in your medical care. After all, this is the only body you have! It's a simple fact of life that patients who know how to make the most of their doctor get better medical care. Therefore, it's very important that you learn how to do so!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Make sure you carry photocopies of all your medical records and tests. You can give them to the doctor for his files, if needed - but keep your originals with you - they are your property! Also, make sure that you have clearly understood the contents of your medical records so that you can explain the details to another doctor if needed.
Monday, February 7, 2011
While an occasional delay is unavoidable (since a medical emergency could require your doctor's immediate attention), if you are made to wait for an eternity each time, something is seriously wrong with the doctor's attitude towards patients. For any inordinate delay, the clinic staff should be courteous enough to provide an explanation, and, if needed, an alternative appointment. As an example of efficient patient management, if a doctor at the famous Mayo Clinic in the USA makes you wait for more than 30 minutes without an explanation, you can complain to the hospital manager who will rectify matters.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
The most common complaint of patients is that they are made to wait for ages before the doctor can see them! It is only because patients put up with such a situation that doctors get away with this unpardonable behavior. After all, no doctor would remain very busy if all his patients decide to refuse to wait for him! Some patients seem to believe that the longer they have to wait outside the doctor's clinic, the better he must be, since he has so many patients clamoring for his attention. This is simply not true! No matter how hard-pressed a doctor may be, he can always space out his appointments, so that you never have to wait for more than an hour to see him.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
What happens if you and your doctor differ about a treatment option? Let me point out that there's a right way of approaching your doctor and a wrong way. It's simply a matter of mutual respect; you wouldn't want your doctor to assume the worst about you, so, on a reciprocal basis, don't assume the worst about him! Often, if you can put across your feelings and apprehensions in the right way, you can get your doctor to help you. Explain your needs to the physician in a polite way, without any belligerence or hostility. Remember that you are both on the same side - yours!