Choosing Your Doctor
When a person is injured due to medical malpractice, it may be because of the doctor’s lack of care (negligence), or a lack of skill on the part of the doctor to perform the procedure or treat you competently. A medical license alone shows that the doctor possesses the education and training required by the medical profession, and is enough to be held to the same standard of other doctors practicing in that same field or specialty. But not all doctors practice with the same degree of care and concern for their patients, and some doctors are just simply better than others. You can decrease your chances of being mistreated by a negligent or incompetent doctor or surgeon by taking some time and doing a little homework before you select a doctor to treat you. Below are a few tips to help you select a doctor that will meet your needs.
Step One: Check Your Insurance
Whether you belong to an HMO, PPO, or other type of insurance network, you will probably want to be sure to select a doctor within your carrier’s provider network. Going outside of the network can cost you considerably more in out-of-pocket expenses. Hopefully you will be able to select a primary care physician who meets your needs and is approved by your insurance company. When it comes to choosing a specialist, however, you want to make sure you receive the best care available from a doctor who can treat your specific medical condition. Insurance considerations are important, but they do not necessarily have a lot to do with choosing a doctor who is caring and competent.
Step Two: Check Your Doctor
Once you have a list of potential physicians, you will want to make sure they are currently licensed. Also, do they have any history of disciplinary actions taken against them? Do they have any charges pending before the medical board? What about criminal convictions related to ethical conduct or the doctor’s professional conduct? And have these doctors had any malpractice judgments entered against him or her? Finding the answers to these questions may help shorten your list or give you confidence about your choices. While all of this information may not be easy to find, much of it is readily available through a simple internet search. Licensing information, for instance, can be found online at the Office of Professions, and disciplinary actions against physicians and physician assistants can be found at the Office of Professional Medical Conduct.
Step Three: Conduct an Interview
This can be done in conjunction with a physical examination, or as part of an initial consultation. Your goal here should be to gather an impression of how much time and attention the doctor will devote to your care, and whether your goals and concerns for your health and medical care are likely to be met. For instance, if you are conservative in your approach to medicine, you may not want a doctor who is aggressive, and vice versa.
It is a good idea to prepare a list of questions in advance of your meeting. Some suggestions include:
- Will you usually be seeing the doctor on your visits, or will it be a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner instead?
- Who will see you when the doctor is unavailable?
- Is the doctor board-certified or licensed in any specialty areas?
- At which hospital(s) does the doctor have admitting privileges?
- Does the doctor have experience with your particular conditions or areas of concern?
Step Four: Reflect on What You’ve Learned
Did you feel rushed in your interview, or did the doctor provide you with undivided attention and take the time to answer your questions? Will you be comfortable in a long term doctor-patient relationship with this doctor and staff? We do not all have the luxury of choosing our own doctor, such as when we are treated in an emergency room or forced to go to a certain provider by our HMO or health insurance company. And while we can never fully shield ourselves from malpractice, taking steps like these may help increase our chances of receiving quality care. We hope this information is helpful to you. If you ever believe that your health has been damaged by incompetent or negligent medical care, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a consultation with an experienced New York City medical malpractice attorney.