By Judith Whitehead – Contributing Writer
How do I know If I have chosen the right doctor?
There are many choices out there to pick a doctor, whether it be a primary general practitioner or a specialty or sub-specialty doctor. How can we be sure if we have chosen the right one?
Some people only need to go to one type of doctor during their lifetime but they are in the minority. The days of the general doctor that can take care of all our needs is no longer the case. With the many ailments people have today, they must choose to go to a specialist who deals with a particular condition such as cancer or diabetes.
Primary care doctors are gatekeepers who should direct you to a specialist if your health problem is out of their scope of training. Many of them can monitor a disease, order blood work and tests necessary for a diagnosis. They do not always have the depth of knowledge to treat a problem.
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For instance, an internist may be able to diagnose diabetes and begin treatment but when the blood sugars become uncontrollable it would be prudent to refer to a specialist, an endocrinologist, who deals only with such conditions and has been trained to take treatments to higher levels.
When looking for a doctor, it may help to check on “HealthGrades” to see if doctors are board certified in their field. This means they have taken certain testing and courses to keep up to date on the latest and greatest treatments in their fields. HealthGrades (healthgrades.com) also tells you the doctor's education base, accomplishments, whether it takes a few minutes to see them or a long wait, and what other patients thought of their treatment and expertise.
It is at times helpful to review this before making a decision about which doctor you plan to trust with your care.
While having worked in the medical field for nearly 40 years and having my bachelor's degree in gerontology, I see many older patients who have gone to the same doctor for many years.
I work in the medical field of ophthalmology and talk with sick patients every day. They may have medical issues that are not always being addressed and make the mistake of continuing with a doctor that has been “nice” to them. Today's older patients are not always savvy in making an informed decision and don't have the family or friends to help them choose the right path for their good health.
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Don't make the common mistake of thinking that because your doctor is nice to you, he or she is the right one to manage your care. If you have questions for your doctor that are not being answered, don't be afraid to check elsewhere to satisfy yourself.
Your doctors work for you; you are placing your trust and health in their hands and if you are not getting better, check with someone else for another opinion. Your doctor should not take offense to your decision. If he or she does, perhaps you need to rethink your choices. Doctors are highly trained individuals and are only humans that should have your best interest in mind.
If you are fortunate enough to find a doctor that is talented, smart and friendly, that's great.
Keep in mind, your doctor doesn't have to be your best friend. He or she just has to be an expert in the field because you want the most talented person taking care of you and your health needs.
It seems that a personal referral is one of the best ways to pick your doctor along with guidance from others in the medical field. Make your decision wisely, and take your decision seriously. It may affect your longevity.
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.