Whether you’re new to an area and looking for a doctor or you want to find a specialist to help with a problem you’re experiencing, finding a doctor can be a daunting task.
I have been a neurologist for over 30 years and I know there’s a lot being thrown at patients that makes it very difficult to choose a doctor. But, when it comes to making a decision, it’s crucial to pick the one that’s best for you.
For many people, there are usually many local doctors to choose from, and many of these doctors are hospital employees. The quality of the doctor or surgeon, though, has nothing to do with the “rating” of the hospital, which is often paid for by hospital advertising.
If you are in a hospital system, there is tremendous pressure on any doctor employed by that system to keep patients in that hospital system, and refer only in that system. Inter-hospital cooperation and teamwork, so important in medicine, is non-existent.
Hopefully you won’t need surgery. But if you do, your outcome will have much more to do with the quality of the surgeon than the “rating” of the hospital.
How do you find a surgeon who won’t operate if you don’t need it, and will do the right kind of operation if you do?
How do you know if your doctor is a “good doctor”, because unless you’re a doctor or a nurse yourself, you can’t tell. And a hospital is not going to tell you. That’s a closely guarded secret (except in New York, where outcomes of surgeons for a very specific type of heart surgery is published for all to see).
Price transparency and true accountability are all but completely lacking in health care. Hospitals are over-utilized. Website quality ratings literally mean nothing. Association with a name brand hospital literally means nothing. So how can you find a really good doctor, short of knowing someone who is in the medical field and has been to that doctor?
Here are a few simple rules you can use to evaluate for yourself whether a doctor is right for you.
— Vernon Rowe, MD
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