How can you find a doctor you can trust? John Connolly, editor of a series of books about how to find the best doctors, offered several hints.
"If you have concerns about a physician and their professional record, there are information sources available and it's worth it to take the time," says Connolly. "These are the most important decisions we make, choosing physicians and we should devote the time to it."
- Find a physician that you can trust. But feeling comfortable with a doctor isn't enough, he says. There are several other critical elements many people often don't think of.
- Begin the process by trying to identify the best hospitals and trying to find a physician on the staff there. The best hospitals attract the best doctors.
- Get recommendations, from sources you can trust. Says Connolly: "Call the hospital referral service, look at your health plan directory, or ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations of physicians."
- Most importantly, find out if your doctor is board certified. "Board certification is absolutely critical," Connolly says. "Without it, you don't know if the physician has had proper training in that field of specialty." Why? In this country, physicians, once licensed, can put out a shingle with any specialty at all - whether or not they've had specific training.
- Access your state's official Web site. In more than 40 states you can obtain information about a doctor and any claims that might have been filed against him. Start by clicking onto a state's official Web site to find out where to go next.