How to choose the right physician for your loved one

There are certain things that a caregiver must ask from and about a doctor – as well as questions they should ask themselves – in order to determine which physician is the right fit for the loved one that they provide care for.

·         Has a local consumer group rated doctors in the area where you and your loved one live? How reliable are these ratings?

·         Does the doctor accept your loved one’s health insurance?

·         In what areas does the doctor specialize? Do these areas match your loved one’s needs?

·         How long has the doctor been in practice?

·         Where did the doctor receive his/her degrees and training?

·         Which hospitals does the doctor use?

·         What are the office hours? When is the doctor available? When can you speak to office staff?

·         Does the doctor speak the same language you and your loved one are most comfortable speaking?

·         How many other doctors ‘cover’ for the doctor when he/she is not available? Who are they?

·         How long does it usually take to get a routine appointment?

·         What happens if your loved one needs to cancel an appointment? Will you have to pay for it regardless?

·         Does the office send reminders about prevention tests?

·         What do you do if your loved one has an ‘after hours’ emergency?

·         Does the doctor give advice over the phone?

·         Is the doctor aware of relevant community resources?

·         How long or difficult is the trip to the office?

Accompany your loved one on his/her first visit to the doctor. Ask yourself:

·         Did the doctor give you and your loved one a chance to ask questions?

·         Did he/she really listen to these questions?

·         Did he/she answer in terms you could understand?

·         Did he/she treat you and your loved one with respect and dignity?

·         Did he/she ask both of you questions?

·         Did he/she make you both feel comfortable?

·         Did he/she address the health problem your loved one came with?

·         Did he/she ask about treatment preferences?

·         Did he/she spend enough time with you?

Trust your instincts when assessing a doctor, but also give the relationship some time to develop. First impressions are important, but more than a single visit may be necessary before you, your loved one, and the doctor develop rapport with each other.

And don’t forget to:

·         Provide information before being asked.

·         You know important things about your loved one’s symptoms and health history. Tell the doctor what you think he/she needs to know.

·         It is important to tell the doctor personal information, even if you think it might embarrassing or awkward.

·         Take your loved one’s ‘medical history’ list with you and keep it updated.

·         Make sure the doctor is aware of any medications your loved one is taking. Talk about any allergies or reactions to medicines.

·         Tell the doctor about any natural or alternative medicines or treatments.

·         Bring other medical information, such as x-ray films, test results, and medical records.

·         Ask questions. Otherwise, the doctor may think you understand everything that was said.

·         Write down questions before your visit. List the most important ones first to make sure they get asked and answered.

·         Take notes.

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