Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.

Doctors

Finding a doctor:

  • Decide what you’re looking for in a doctor, e.g., emphasis on non-medication treatment/therapy when feasible
  • Check with the American Medical Association for recommendations, e.g., AMA Doctor Finder for the doctor’s background – disciplinary data not available
  • Compare local hospitals, e.g., at HealthGrades.com
  • Check “The Best Doctors in America” books
  • Seek referrals from other doctors

If you don’t have health insurance:

  • Go to hrsa.gov and enter your address to find health centers near you which don’t require health insurance

For any doctors you’re considering using:

  • Check the doctor’s credentials with the state medical board
  • Ensure the doctor:

    • Is qualified in the area(s) you need care, e.g., call the American Board of Medical Specialties (800 776-2378) to ensure the doctor is certified to practice in the specialty you need treatment in – disciplinary data not available
    • Is licensed in your state
    • Completed his/her residency at a reputable institution
    • Is Board certified – approx. 75% of doctors are board certified
    • Has no significant disciplinary action taken against him/her, e.g., check the Medi-Net Internet Web site (www.askmedi.com) (or call 888 ASK-MEDI) for any disciplinary information on the doctor – $15 fee)
  • Ensure:

    • You’ll have adequate access to the doctor and the staff, in person and on phone
    • The doctor’s office runs smoothly
    • The doctor encourages two-way communication through his/her demeanor
    • You and the doctor have mutual respect which leads to trust

If you’re looking for a doctor for your child:

  • Try to find a doctor who is good with children

Visiting a doctor:

Before:

  • Write down items to discuss with the doctor, e.g.:

    • Ailments and symptoms you’ve experienced recently
    • Questions to ask of, and concerns to mention to, your doctor
    • Your treatment to date e.g., medications
  • Be prepared to give a urine sample (e.g., don’t urinate before going to the doctor’s office, do drink lots of fluids)

If you’re taking a child to see the doctor:

  • Announce the visit no more than 2-3 days before the visit so the child won’t worry excessively about the visit
  • Prepare them beforehand for everything you expect to happen, including the possibility of getting a shot (don’t let there be surprises) – it’ll damage their trust in you, doctors and nurses

Take:

  • Health insurance card and/or insurance information
  • List of all medications you’re taking and/or the actual medications
  • Medical/health records
  • Check, credit card or cash to pay bill

During visit:

  • Ask lots of questions, e.g.:

    • What tests were run
    • Were results of tests in the high or low range
    • Treatment options
    • Clarification of doctor’s comments, advice and recommended treatment
  • Be aware that the following are commonly-overlooked diseases:

    • Pulmonary emboli
    • Heart disease (heart attack)
    • Tumors
    • Infections
    • Tick-borne diseases
  • Let your child sit on your lap when feasible, especially for shots, etc.

If the doctor recommends/prescribes a course of action you’re unsure of:

  • Get a second (and perhaps third) opinion from another doctor

After:

  • Ask the doctor if you’re contagious
  • Reward child for being brave

Regularly:

  • Schedule a health check-up at least yearly

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