Similar to any profession, the medical industry is comprised of experts of varying skill and expertise. Why are there such wide discrepancies in the quality of medical care? "As in any professional school, someone is at the head of the class and someone is at the bottom," Dr Margaret Lewin, board certified physician and chief medical director of the insurance benefits provider Cinergy Health explains. "Even when equally competent, practitioners in any profession are more or less compulsive, better or worse communicators, and more or less caring."
Dr Svetlana Kogan, who is board certified in internal medicine and founder of The Doctors At Trump Place in Manhattan, believes that low quality medical care is a result of the growing number of large clinics and hospitals, and that a private "boutique" practice can offer patients the appropriate time and effort of care. "Salaried doctors who work for the hospitals or have been hired by large groups have no incentive to provide excellent medical care," says Dr Kogan. "Large clinics and hospital settings are dehumanizing patients and creating unhealthy patient-doctor relationships." She recommends seeing a doctor with a small private practice where the doctor knows your name and can be your advocate and friend.
Instead of passively seeing your health care provider, take an active role in ensuring you are getting the best care possible. Whether something your doctor recommends doesn't feel right to you, or you simply want more information, don't hesitate to ask questions, especially if the doctor recommends seemingly unnecessary repeat visits, lab tests, or pricey treatments. You can save money and even protect your health with the most basic of inquiries.
Dr Lewin, who specializes in primary and preventative care, suggests asking the following questions:
The New York medical professional says, "If you don't get coherent, logical answers, it could be that your suspicions of greed are appropriate or it's just a communications problem – but either might be a signal that it's time to change doctors!"
Both Dr Lewin and Dr Kogan recommend finding a new doctor if your current health care provider is not meeting your needs. Here are 15 warning signs you should dump your doc.
1. Your doctor is rude or disrespectful.
2. Your doctor doesn't listen carefully to your concerns and medical complaints.
3. There are too many interruptions with non-urgent telephone calls.
4. Your doctor consistently keeps you waiting an unacceptably long time.
5. It takes too long to get an appointment.
6. Your doctor spends more time writing notes in your chart rather than looking straight at you.
7. You feel rushed through your appointment.
8. Your doctor interrupts you when you are talking.
9. Your doctor treats you like a body rather than an individual.
10. It's too hard to reach the doctor (or a knowledgeable assistant - such as a nurse practitioner) if a proposed treatment doesn't work or is causing side effects.
11. The office has inadequate arrangements for handling emergencies outside of regular office hours.
12. Your doctor doesn't admit to mistakes or not knowing something important.
13. Your doctor doesn't answer your questions or refuses to find answers when he or she doesn't have them.
14. Your doctor lacks compassion when you are hurting or your family member is ill.
15. Your doctor does not give you hope if you are sick.
If your doctor-patient relationship is riddled with dissatisfaction, it's time to find a doctor who can provide you and your family with the care you deserve.
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