Choosing a primary care physician is a difficult decision, but one that is extremely important for your well-being going forward. Primary healthcare providers act as the first point of contact for all of your healthcare needs, so it's important to take your time when choosing a doctor. To help you with this, below are three questions you should ask every potential healthcare provider to ensure you make the best choice possible:
Can I Have a List of Referrals for Contact?
If you have found your doctor by any method other than word of mouth, you likely have no idea how the doctor treats his patients. Yes, they may have a very impressive professional record, but there is no metric for measuring the bedside manner that makes a good doctor great. However, oftentimes this bedside manner is just as important as a doctor's technical skills, as a great doctor is able to calm your nerves and reassure you about your healthcare options.
The only way to get an idea of how the doctor treats their patients is to speak to the patients themselves. Don't worry, most doctors will be more than happy to give you a list of their referrals for you to contact in order to weigh up your options. Doctors understand that word of mouth and referrals are very strong marketing tools, and they will be able to get you the clarification you desire. If any doctor has a particular problem with this, you should proceed with caution; chances are they are a less-than-stellar physician and don't have a list of satisfied patients that will give them a glowing recommendation.
What Specialists Do You Work With?
Every primary care physician will have an extensive network of specialists whom they work alongside when treating their patients. When choosing a primary care provider, it's important to remember that they do not come alone. Rather, you are effectively hiring the physician's entire network as your team of healthcare providers. As such, it's important to understand the composition of your physician's specialist network and how they will be able to treat you and your family.
When speaking with your physician, ask them for a list of doctors on their specialist network and the hospitals they are associated with. This will give you the chance to search for these doctors and find out more about their previous track record in treating patients. Remember to always look for indicators of quality healthcare provision. As mentioned above, the best way to do this is to speak with former patients and ask them directly about their treatment. Once you have a better idea about each physician's network of specialists, you will be able to make a more informed decision regarding your healthcare provider going forward.
Have You Ever Been Sued for Malpractice?
The United States is a very litigious nation, so it's possible for even the best doctors to have a few malpractice claims on their record. However, it's not so much the presence of malpractice claims that should deter you from using a particular doctor, but whether or not these malpractice claims were successful in court. Medical malpractice is a notoriously difficult area of law to win a case in; therefore, if any doctor has had a number of successful malpractice claims filed against them, you should be wary.
Thankfully, the Internet has made it possible to check your doctor's history before agreeing to any sort of primary healthcare provision. Depending on which state you are located in, you will be able to check things like their disciplinary record, education history, and state licensing. By doing so, you will be able to avoid red flags and choose a doctor with a limited history of being tied up with malpractice claims.