Whether you’re moving and need to find a primary care physician or pediatrician near your new home, there are some basic questions you should ask before choosing which physician to work with.
What are the doctor’s credentials?
The credentials you should check include the physician’s education, postgraduate training, medical specialties, board certifications, publications and research, licensing issues, honors and awards.
Is the doctor certified?
Check that the physician you’re considering is certified in the specialty or sub specialty area you need, for example gerontology, gynecology or internal medicine. To receive board certification, physicians must successfully complete a rigorous training and evaluation process.
Have there been any disciplinary actions or malpractice suits brought against the doctor?
State medical boards are responsible for taking disciplinary actions when a doctor engages in unprofessional conduct, such as physical abuse of a patient, not recognizing or acting on common symptoms, inadequate record keeping or conviction of a felony. Most medical boards also collect information regarding malpractice actions.
How often does the doctor perform the procedure I need?
Studies show that the more often a surgeon performs a procedure, the better the outcomes. If you need surgery or another medical procedure, ask how many times the doctor performs that specific procedure each year. Also ask for information about patient outcomes, such as mortality rates, complication rates, recovery time, quality of life, or other outcomes specific to your procedure.
Is the doctor recognized as one of the leading specialists in his or her field?
One way to determine whether your physician is a leader in the field is to find out whether he or she has done cutting-edge research related to condition for which you’re seeking treatment. Ask if the doctor has presented new knowledge, techniques or technologies at medical meetings and is skilled and experienced in the most effective and advanced techniques and technologies.
Learning as much as you can about a new physician before becoming a patient can help ensure a better fit and that you’re working with an experienced expert.