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Daily Q&A: What tips can you give for finding the right doctor?

What tips can you offer when shopping for a doctor?

Here are some tips given to us by Dr. Margaret Lewin, Medical Director of Cinergy Health:

• Getting Started: Start with a generalist (internist or family practitioner) who can help you prevent illness, handle most problems and refer you to (and coordinate your care with) first-rate sub-specialists when needed.

• Where to look: If you have a health insurance plan which limits you to participating doctors, look at the plan's list of general internists or family practitioners and narrow it down.

• Once you've narrowed it down: Schedule an interview visit with the doctor or make an appointment for a simple problem such as a sore throat. Decide beforehand what's most important to you in the right doctor, and during the visit watch for clues such as: Are the office and staff scrupulously clean, professional? Does the doctor listen carefully and respectfully? Is the doctor willing to 'negotiate' — taking into account your personal quirks, or is the person rigid in outlook and approach?

• When you need a specialist: start by asking your internist or family physician. They should direct you to a specialist expert in your particular problem and oblige the specialist to write a consultation note to your general doctor. This lets the generalist help you coordinate your care and keeps all your records in one place should you want your records transferred elsewhere.

• If you don't feel comfortable with your current doctor: Find another one! Don't be embarrassed — after all, the two nicest people in the world can have a dreadful marriage.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: What tips can you give for finding the right doctor? 01/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:51am]
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