The decision to look for a new doctor may be one you’ve recently decided to make because of a number of different factors. You may have just moved to the Maryland or Washington D.C. area or you may be unhappy with the care you have been receiving from your current doctor. You may have also recently been a victim of medical malpractice or maybe switching doctors due to insurance reasons.
Whatever your reason may be, finding a doctor that is trustworthy, qualified, respected, and simply a good match for you can be a difficult process. Doctors are qualified to practice in their respective areas of medicine; however, they may not have the manner, natural empathy, or performance record necessary to make them the best choice.
Not all doctors place priority on making their patients feel valued. More importantly, not all doctors follow standards and professional guidelines set forth by Maryland and Washington D.C law.
If you are currently in the process of choosing a new doctor, you may not be able to find helpful information necessary in the decision-making process. As such, below are some helpful guidelines you may want to employ when researching.
1. Determine what kind of doctor you need.
The first step to finding a good physician is identifying the kind of care you need. You may have a specific symptom or identified illness that requires the care of a specialist. If this is not the case, you may only be on the search for a new primary care physician. If you have certain symptoms and no diagnosis, it’s often best to start with a primary care physician as bouncing from specialist to specialist can be costly or lead to misdiagnosis.
2. Compile a list of doctors in the Maryland or Washington D.C. area that are practicing in the specialty you define.
Whether you have identified that you are searching for a specialist or primary care physician, put together a list of doctors in the area. A list such as this can often be generated via your insurance provider or by an online database such as Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com, or US News & World Report’s Doctor Finder directory.
3. Narrow your list by preferences.
Once you have a list of available physicians, narrow your list even further by filtering doctors by characteristics important to you. Some examples may be office location, language, years in practice, or type of insurance accepted.
4. Use a board certification search tool.
One of the most important steps in evaluating quality is to check whether a physician is board-certified. Physicians who are board-certified have gone beyond legal licensing requirements to meet national standards for education, knowledge, experience, and skills. To see whether your doctor is board-certified, visit CertificationMatters.org or the American Board of Medical Specialties (registration required). Tools such as these let you search by a doctor’s name, specialty, or location.
5. Check online reviews.
Look through online sources that allow individuals to review a physician and their office. For example, Yelp.com allows for comments and ratings. U.S News provides overviews, rankings, and ratings for top area doctors. Find local patient support and advocacy groups online for your condition and ask about doctors in your area. Pay attention when the same name is mentioned more than once.
6. Make an appointment.
What better way to evaluate a physician than evaluating the individual and their office in person? Make an appointment and evaluate the courteousness and professionalism of the scheduling staff, nurses, physician assistants (PA’s), and other office members. Pay close attention to the cleanliness and comfort of the facility. Ask the office staff at the front desk how they intend to provide you with your medical records if necessary or, how they’ll stay on top of any communication needs. Timeliness and convenience are other aspects of your visit to take into consideration. A physician who values your time and needs just as much as any other patient will make sure to not overschedule appointments or rush you during yours. Do not forget to pay attention to the attitude, demeanor, and professionalism of the physician in general.
In conclusion, choosing the right doctor is a very important decision to make. Whether it be a primary care doctor or specialist, choosing the right doctor will impact how any medical care you receive will be handled. Improper care can ultimately result in a case of medical malpractice. Make sure your current or future medical needs are placed in the care of the right doctor by doing research and always seeking a second opinion if necessary.
If you have chosen a doctor in the past that ultimately turned out to be the wrong choice, resulting in a medical mistake, you could benefit from the extensive experience and skills of Potter Burnett Law. We fight to protect the rights of patients who have fallen victim to medical malpractice. Contact us today to request a free consultation.