Is your Doctor a Healthcare Prison and you a Prisoner?

We clearly trust our doctors to much!!!! Healthcare Consumers need to take more control of their Healthcare. Trusting and having a good doctor are two different things. Our goal is guide you to determine which he or she is.

There’s no such thing as a “best doctor,” despite the many books and lists compiling them. But there is such a thing as the wrong doctor for you. Your physician needs to be competent. More importantly, this professional should listen well, make you feel comfortable, understand your goals and allow you to lead the team in managing your healthcare.

Your doctor controls your healthcare. We trust our doctor, we pay our doctor, we believe our doctor will make decisions in our best interest, think again….seems like a prison to me! Seems like we can be prisoners.

The following are several observations you should consider and ask your self about your doctor.

1. You have lost confidence in your doctor’s ability.

If you have serious doubts about a physician’s competence, you should look for a new one. Surprisingly many people settle for the status quo because they have been with the doctor a long time, they are friends or they don’t want to hurt the doctor’s feelings.

2. Your doctor isn’t on staff at a hospital.

While many hospitals have staff physicians to care for you, being a member of the staff allows your own doctor to look at the chart and be involved in your care should the need arise. You can check your hospital’s report card on the federal government’s web site.

3. Your doctor isn’t board certified in his or her specialty.

Board certification is no guarantee that your doctor will practice high quality, cost-effective care, but most specialties now require periodic recertification; that means your doctor has provided evidence that he or she has kept current with new developments. You might also check your doctor’s record with the state medical board. It is one more piece of information to help you decide if you are with the right physician.

4. The doctor doesn’t value your input.

Most office visits last 15 minutes or less. Still, the doctor should listen to you with undivided attention and help you feel comfortable sharing your medical information.

An office visit or phone call shouldn’t leave you feeling that you must follow the doctor’s recommendations without question. You should be able to raise any concerns you have or ask about things you have read about or found on the web. If the doctor is condescending or makes you feel foolish, it’s not a healthy partnership. Likewise, with a chronic disease, your doctor should encourage you and your family members to be active participants in managing your health. Remember your doctor is working for you.

5. The doctor keeps you in the dark about prescriptions.

Most patients with a chronic illness take between 5 and 10 medications. Your physician should keep a legible, up-to date record of them. When prescribing a new drug, the doctor should explain why you need it and discuss its potential side effects and interactions. If cost is an issue for you, he or she should be sensitive to that and use generics whenever possible.

6. The doctor doesn’t coordinate well with other physicians.

If you see multiple physicians, they should coordinate with each other. Many people rely on a primary care physician for referrals to specialists; ask yourself whether you have been happy with those referrals. On the other hand, you may feel that your doctor is too quick to order diagnostic work by a specialist each time you mention a new symptom. Your doctor shouldn’t become angry or defensive if you request a second opinion.

7. The office is disorganized.

Telephone calls aren’t returned promptly. Test results are difficult to obtain. It takes three phone calls to get a prescription refilled. Insurance forms are incorrect or late. Referral notes to consultants are unintelligible. It’s hard to get an appointment. When you finally get one, you’re always stuck in the waiting room for at least an hour, and cooped up in the examining for another 30 minutes before the doctor finally makes an appearance. Sound familiar? You don’t have to put up with any of this.

8. There are too many gatekeepers.

Ancillary clinicians, such as a physician assistant, nurse practitioner or covering physician are an important part of the healthcare team. Your doctor should have explained their respective roles. But if you rarely see your own doctor – say he or she is available only two or three days a week – that’s a bad sign.

9. Your doctor is behind the times.

Before starting you on a new course of therapy, your doctor should say something like “the latest studies show” or “recent guidelines suggest.”  This is called evidence-based medicine.

During a check-up, your doctor should make sure that all your immunizations are up to date, and you are receiving all of the age appropriate screening procedures, such as a colonoscopy or mammogram. If you’re a diabetic, look on the American Diabetes Association web site and make sure your doctor is ordering the appropriate tests and monitoring you according to published guidelines.

10. The doctor doesn’t offer the amenities you need.

Compared to sanitary protocols, like whether doctors wash their hands or use alcohol gel before touching you, waiting room décor is relatively unimportant. But if you have a busy schedule, the location of the office and the availability of extended hours might matter. Another deal breaker for some folks: a physician who doesn’t accept your insurance plan, or charges more than the going rate. Being able to log on to electronic medical records using a secure web site and make appointments on line are both added conveniences. And a doctor who answers e-mail offers the ultimate access.

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