Saturday, 10 November 2007

Tips on doctor shopping

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One of the worst parts of moving is finding a trusted doctor when you arrive to town. I always seek a pediatrician quickly for the kids, but then leave my husband and I in a lurch. New to our home a couple years ago, I ended up in the emergency room for a silly sinus infection because I procrastinated on landing a primary care physician.

The Chicago Tribune polled Hal Alpiar, author of Doctor Shopping, and other experts on proper questions to ask in your doctor search. Here are a few interesting suggestions from over a dozen tips:

  • Go with your gut. Do you get bad vibes from the doctor? Could you tell him/her private information? What is more important to you, a good bedside manner or graduating from a top school?
  • If you end up in the hospital, does the doctor perform his/her own hospital rounds or hand them off to hospitalists? Large practices often farm them out -- one expert predicted this will be the norm in ten years.
  • Will the doctor perform stitches or treat a minor injury same-day, or do you have to head to the ER?
  • What is the doctor's theory on "wellness" -- beyond routine tests, will they go further and order a low-dose scan for a former smoker?

It can be wise to interview your doctor thoroughly, although time spent in a doctor interview may not be covered by insurance. I've always relied on recommendations from new friends or acquaintances -- but I may pose a few of these questions to our doc at a future visit.

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