Monday, August 9, 2010

Do You Know Your Doctor?

Changing Physicians

A woman called me today about her doctor. She has been seeing the same gynecologist for 8 years and decided to look up his information on the New York Doctors Profile website, a NY State website and law I was involved in getting started in 2000 after 3 years fighting for it. She was surprised to find her doctor had 5 settled claims in 10 years. “One every other year” she told me.

She was now searching for a new doctor but wondered if she should be alarmed or even concerned and should she even bother changing doctors. Finding the PULSE of NY contact information in America’s Top Doctors book, she thought I may be able to give her some advice.

After reminding me numerous times that she did not want to hurt her doctor’s reputation or “put him out of business” she only wanted to know what to do and if she should be concerned, I asked her; “Why did you call me?”

She thought for a moment and said she was concerned.

“So” I told her “you don’t need me to tell you what to do”. If someone can’t have an honest trusting relationship with their doctor than that is not the basis of a partnership. She said many times that she has a great relationship and likes her doctor. This was making it difficult to leave this group of doctors. "They know me and have all my records" she told me. I suggested she can ask the doctor about the lawsuits. She wanted to know why so many. “Ask” I told her.

I suggested she look to see how many ob-gyn’s have settlements too. Very few she told me. “And if this doctor tells you that you are fine, will you accept that information or will you question everything he says?” She said she would have to go to another doctor to confirm what this doctor says.

The time to change doctors, if you want to change, is now before you are sick or in need of care. Find the hospital you want to be affiliated with and go backwards, if possible. Find the doctor who uses that hospital. If a doctor needs to do a procedure or surgery, that’s where you will be going. Don’t stop at one doctor. If you are a match, you will know it. If there is no energy, change again. There are no rules that you can’t shop for the right doctor.

And finally, just because a doctor has never been sued or has a great reputation, doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. This is why being involved – always- is so important. I can’t refer people to doctors for this reason. We can’t guarantee things won’t go wrong.

1 comment:

Doug Hall said...

Great question to her: "Why did you call me?" It brings the real issue into focus.

There is a trend of patients seeing their doctor as a person - and like all people there are about 10% you wouldn't trust as far as you could throw them. Doctors are no different.

The doctor-patient relationship is the most intimate customer-provider relationship. You should know more than the doctor's last name.

Perhaps we should probe our doctors before being probed.

The NY Doctors Profile website plus the Healthgrades doctor profile service plus a deep background check should give you a good idea about whom you are entrusting your life.

Comparison shopping is good for cell phone plans and surgeons. Not all doctors are equally schooled or skilled.

The chances of an receiving an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment plan, successful surgery, and an uneventful recovery increase when the best doctor for your unique situation is chosen.