General Question

La_chica_gomela's avatar

What advice do you have on finding a doctor?

Asked by La_chica_gomela (12493 points ) September 8th, 2009

After a long series of events surrounding my health, I have zero faith in any of the doctors I’ve been to in this town (Houston, TX, US). The only way I’ve generally found doctors before is through the recommendations of friends and other doctors. Well, since I don’t trust the doctors I’ve been to here, I don’t trust their friends either, and my friends have been to basically the same people I’ve been to.

I need an internist right now, but I’ll probably need a gyno, too eventually.

Suggestions?

Also: My insurance is pretty flexible. I can see whomever I want, it makes no difference to them.

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24 Answers

evegrimm's avatar

Whenever my mom has to change doctors, she always asks her co-workers for suggestions.

I see you said you asked your friends…have you asked around at work?

I’ve never used this, but I imagine it would be similar to other sites: http://www.ratemds.com/

If I lived near you, I could recommend somebody! :( sorry!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I have a job, but I don’t really have co-workers, per se. It’s kind of complicated.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I have been happiest with a family practitioner rather than an internist. They are easier to get into for routine care, and send you out by referral to specialists. My current family practitioners are two women, one of whom is the wife of a leading cardiologist in our area. I picked them because they were a new practice, and have stayed with them because the referrals are excellent and their follow-up is good.

Likeradar's avatar

My only advice is to test-drive lots and lots of doctors until you find that special someone.

I have Kaiser, and I went through maybe 6 primary care physicians in the past 4 years until I found my beloved Dr. Y. No other doctor has ever made me feel so comfortable, so cared for, and so un-rushed. She recently changed offices, and the new doc assigned to me made me jump through hoops for a refill. I will now be driving 30 minutes to see Dr. Y.

casheroo's avatar

I’m sorry. I know how difficult it is to find a good doctor. I feel lucky that I’ve always had great Internists. I’ve had two my whole life…my pediatrician and now the one my family shares. Both attentive and compassionate.
Specialty doctors are a whole nother ball park. I go by recommendation only when it comes to that, and then reputation. My worst experience has been with multiple GIs, they all seem to suck.

My mother does this things with “Best Doctors” and although it’s through communication, they also recommend doctors in the area. Here’s the site (I think!) http://www.bestdoctors.com/bd/experts.php I know she sent all her medical records to John Hopkins doctors, through this program, and they found a specialist in our area for her problem. Maybe they can help??

Jeruba's avatar

If you have a preference for a certain hospital, look for someone who is affiliated with it.

I don’t know how old you are, but the last time I shopped for a doctor, I wanted someone who was enough younger than I that he wouldn’t be retiring and leaving me to start over with someone new at a late stage in my own career. (One of those unsung life transitions is when you start seeing doctors who are younger than you are.)

I’ve been told that you want a family practitioner as your primary caregiver when you’re younger and an internist when you’re older, until you’re ready for a geriatric specialist.

You can get the medical board for your area to give you names of doctors and what year they got your M.D. if you want to try to guess their ages in advance.

One thing you can do is ask one doctor to recommend another (not a competitor, a specialist). If you don’t trust any of your doctors, is there a professional in the field whom you do trust?—a nurse, a pharmacist, even a dentist? You can then look for additional information about that person.

One time I picked someone on the strength of his name alone (I just liked it; his first name was Dudley, and I’d never met an actual Dudley before) and when he graduated. I stayed with him for about 8 years.

There days there are also things like Angie’s List to help with screening.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Likeradar: Exactly! I’ve seen three or four internists/family practitioners in the last 3 years, and a host of specialists. Oy vey. Maybe someday I’ll find my Doctor Y.

@casheroo: Thanks for the tip! I’ll check that site out.

@Jeruba: I’m actually flattered that you don’t know how old I am. Turns out young enough that I’ve only recently even started encountering doctors who are roughly as young as I am. As far as other health care practitioners, no, I really have none in this town. I’ve found most of the nurses I’ve encountered here largely incompetent, and the one dentist quite odd. There was a pharmacist that rang up a prescription for me not long ago that seemed like a half-decent person. If I don’t find anything better, I’ll try to find him again and ask him for an opinion.

Thanks all!

YARNLADY's avatar

This has got to be the most aggravating problem I can think of. I have some chronic health issues, and therefore finding a good medical provider is very important to me. Hubby’s company has allowed us to use Kaiser, and I find their “choosing a primary care physician” the best plan I have ever tried.

I worked for the Physicians Referral Service in the 1970’s, and I can assure you that in those days that was the best service available. The physicians had to pay to be listed, and they were thoroughly vetted before they were allowed to list. I would hope that is true today, as well.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It could be helpful when someone gives you a recommendation, to drop in the practice office, and observe how the place works, how long patients wait, what the ambiance is between the staff and existing patients, how rushed everyone seems, how professional, etc. Talk to the staff about your need to change practices and why, and see what they tell you about the different doctors in the group. When you find one that sounds promising, make an appointment for a consultation, before you need medical attention. This will take a little pre-work, but in the long run, will pay off better than trying to change doctors when you really need one because of illness.

knitfroggy's avatar

I think word of mouth is the best way to go. From my experience you’ll find one person that just loves one doctor and the next person you talk to think he’s a quack. You just have to gather the info and then try to make the best decision. I’m trying out a new dentist today that I’ve heard only good things about, so I’m interested to see if I like him to.

Darbio16's avatar

Doctors only want to prescribe a pill or cut you open.

Do yourself a favor. Instead of seeking healthcare, just care about your health.

Eat natural whole foods. Avoid chemicals, additives and artificial sugars.

Exercise often. Lots of Cardio and putting on a few pounds of muscle helps burn fat.

Be sure to get plenty of rest. Sleep the 8 hours a day, it will do wonders.

Participate in stress relieving activities. Many studies show that stress is very harmful.

In doing all of this, you will cut the need for even seeing a doctor for routine exams.

Of course you will need to seek medical help for emergencies and for lab tests.

Obviously you are picky, having been to numerous doctors, no doctor can suit you.

Doctors only want to fix you when your broken, but you should seek preventative care.

Jeruba's avatar

One thing to consider is that many primary-care physicians expect to perform a complete physical on a new patient before routine consultations. This is time-consuming and expensive. It’s not something you want to do repeatedly.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@PandoraBoxx: Has that strategy been successful for you?

@Darbio16: You have no idea what you’re talking about. Preventative care means going to a doctor BEFORE it’s an emergency, not after. Sometimes, even when you do cardio, and avoid “chemicals and additives” you still get a 6 cm tumor on your ovary. If you hadn’t been to the doctor for preventative care you wouldn’t have known until it was too late. Oh wait, all that stuff already happened to me!

@Jeruba: That is something important to consider. They also all want to run their own tests. They always seem to refuse to look at blood tests someone else ordered, even if they were only a week ago. So, what can I do? I mean, I want to pick right the first time, that’s why I’m here.

Jeruba's avatar

“preventive”

La_chica_gomela's avatar

also: preventative, from the American Heritage dictionary, but whatever.

Jeruba's avatar

How about posting a new question that puts Houston prominently in the subject line so that if we have any flutherfolk who live there, you might get a direct personal recommendation? It seems to me that what you want out of this one is not so much principles and practices as actual names.

Likeradar's avatar

@Darbio16 Great advice for helping yourself stay in great shape, aside from the ridiculous doctor bashing. Take care of yourself and see a doctor regularly.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@la_chica_gomela. Yes, I did this when I was looking for an immediate care center. I was using one on the other side of town because it was close to the hospital that I was always referred to. But the doctors kept rotating out of there, and I got a little frustrated. So I took a day off, and trotted around to several centers, explained what I was doing, and the one I ended up with was one where one of the doctors came out and explained how they communicate with my doctors, online medical records access, and their preferred contact process with primary care physicians. He also suggested that I check out a certain hospital’s emergency room for non-critical after hour emergencies (mysterious pains, dehydration, sprains, etc.) rather than going to the more popular hospital. The wait time is about half. And I did it when my daughter went away to school, on a lesser scale. We visited the clinic, found immediate care, figured out which hospital, found an emergency dentist, etc. all before they were ever needed.

Make a list of what your pain points are with past doctors, and start with that.

Jeruba's avatar

@PandoraBoxx, if we had Best Answer ratings around here, your last would have my vote.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@casheroo: I was looking at the bestdoctors.com website, and I can’t figure out how to get a recommendation. Also, do you have to pay for that?

casheroo's avatar

@La_chica_gomela I’m unsure. My mother used it, and I don’t know if it went through her insurance or not. She gets back from work sometime after 5pm EST, I’ll let you know when I ask her!

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Choose one now while the choice is still yours.

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