How to find a good doctor, and how to steer clear of the not so good one

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First, do no harm

When it comes to broken bones, gaping wounds, heart attacks, or any type of sudden trauma the work a doctor does is nothing short of miraculous.

These dedicated men and women deserve the highest credit and we should salute them for the brilliant work they do.

Good doctors listen to their patients and bring about good results — hoorah to all the good doctors!

But that’s not to say all doctors hit the same high standard. The law of averages dictates that in any profession, from plumbing to brain surgery, there are always going to those who work with speed and efficiency. Others? Meh, perhaps not so much.

Depending on your desire to get well, you may find stagnant results frustrating. If this is you, then rest assured, the gold standard for finding a good doctor is simple: if patients are getting good results then they have a good doctor. If results are poor …well, that’s not hard to figure out.

That said, I don’t believe any doctor goes to work with the intention of making poor choices. But when symptoms present themselves in a vague fashion, doctors may even fall short of our high expectations.

Let’s remind ourselves that medicine still has a ways to go before it figures out diseases such as chronic fatigue, crippling anxiety, and devastating depression.

Cancer continues to frustrate the medical profession and to date, we are still waiting for the elusive common cold cure. We could also add to the list more than a hundred debilitating autoimmune diseases. The root cause is often written off as either “unknown” or genetic.

So the aim of this article is to guide you into the hands of a good doctor. Although it’s important to note that good doctors and nice doctors are not always the same thing. Here’s a true story…

A friend of the family has been dealing with a health issue for the past year or so. She has worked in the medical industry most of her life and has a great relationship with the doctor treating her. It’s obvious that she likes him (a lot) and she is now trusting him with her life. However, it’s plain to see that twelve months into her illness, her progress has been stagnant. A more critical mind might suggest she has actually gotten worse.

We would do well to remind ourselves that any doctor we employ is there to fix a problem. As in this case, “nice” doctors have become better at public relations than they are at treating people.

If our goal is to recover quickly, then look past the easy smile and cheery bedside manner and find someone with a proven track record. Even if that means you don’t necessarily like the person (or their methods).

LOOKING FOR A USED CAR?

So how do we set about finding a good doctor? That’s easy, search for one with the same diligence we would when buying a used car. Before we step foot on a used car lot, most of us have done a little homework. We may have asked friends which cars they prefer and then cross-reference MPG ratings and prices etc. Some of us may even bring into question the car dealer’s past integrity. And yet, when a car breaks the only thing we stand to lose is a little money.

To seek the services of a doctor without applying the same level of diligence displays an absence of sound reasoning. Using this simple technique, a motivated, informed patient should be able to spot an average doctor from a mile away.

Going into any new situation blind and expecting a positive outcome is at best hopeful. Prior to your appointment take notes and have a series of questions on hand. After a brief fifteen-minute appointment, don’t be in a rush to hand over full responsibility for your health.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that doctors are not gods, with more than 400+ doctors committing suicide every year (in the US alone) I can assure you, they are just as human as you and I.

Pressing people for the cause of your illness allows you to evaluate that person’s understanding of the problem. Without knowing the cause, any treatment moving forward will always be speculative.

It’s important to be an active player in your own recovery. Let’s stop blindly following the instructions of others in the hope that it’s all going to work out for you. Come on now, deep down you know deep down I’m right. Some of us spend more time researching a vacation than we do a medical procedure.

So why is this so important?

The term medical malpractice is one we should ALL fear because it is now becoming a leading cause of death. If we break that down it simply means this: we go to the doctor, he or she gives us something for our illness, we take it, and we die.

No?

Okay, check this out.

In 1999 the pharmaceutical giant Merck released a drug by the name of Vioxx. With a TV budget running into the millions, Vioxx quickly became one of Merck’s bestsellers. Americans were prescribed Vioxx as an aspirin substitute because it was believed to produce fewer complications.

By 2007, people had begun to die and the class action suit that followed was eventually settled for $4.85 billion. But wait, there’s more. By the time Merck paid its fine, it had technically made more profit from selling a deadly drug than it paid in fines! Conservative figures suggest that Vioxx killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, and yet nobody went to jail. What’s up with that?

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.

And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

– The Dalai Lama

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The real concern is that Vioxx was first put on the market in 1999. Despite early alarm bells ringing Vioxx remained on the market right up until 2004!

“First do no harm” is a noble oath that all good doctors aspire to; it’s also the same one many of those doctors prescribing Vioxx took. Again, I’d like to be clear. Good doctors are out there, although it rarely bodes well to put our lives in their hands of someone we have only just met.

ANOTHER STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY

Clearly, things can and do go wrong with medical procedures, but for this next example imagine for a moment you woke one morning with serious pain in your left leg. Over time this pain worsened to the point where you began to use a wheelchair. As the pain intensified a friend quite rightly suggested that you see a doctor.

The news you received from the doctor is damning; tragically the doctor informs you that amputation is the only course of action. Despite reassurances that prosthetics have come a long way, you are deeply reluctant to cut off your left leg. On the way home your leg is hurting like hell and deep inside you accept that the doctor is right — obviously, that leg needs to come off.

A month or so later you find yourself back in the doctor’s office flipping through a glossy prosthetic leg magazine. After filling out the paperwork you are relieved that a date has finally been set for the operation. Now imagine waking up from that same operation and seeing your idiot doctor holding up your right leg. Yes, he amputated the wrong leg. True story!

In 1995, Tempa surgeon Dr. Rolanda R. Sanchez of the University Community Hospital listed the wrong leg for amputation. He and his lawyer Michael Blazicek publicly presented their side of the story.

Personally, I would have thought it a difficult case to defend once exhibit “A” (the leg) was presented, technically leaving him without a leg to stand on, so to speak. Whoa! I’m just telling it like it is.

As for the patient, God only knows what he must have been thinking as he faced the unenviable decision of having to decide for a second time whether or not to have his left leg cut off.

But every cloud has a silver lining. The next time around we can safely assume that the chances our patient’s correct leg will be cut off are as close to 100% as anyone could hope. Easy now … or would you rather I just deliver your medical news in a dull format?

You might think this is an isolated incident and you would be wrong. It is well documented that removing the wrong limb — and even the wrong organ — happens with disturbing regularity. During routine operations, there have even been reports of medical instruments gone missing and turning up stitched inside the patient!

My point is this: don’t settle for average, do your research, be informed, fight your own corner or live with the consequences. Rushing into a relationship with a very nice but “average” doctor allows for ample opportunity to repent at leisure. If you are heading for a hospital, be sure to have good people around you and remain vigilant.

When faced with ANY invasive procedure first do your homework, speak to people who have been in your situation. Then compare their results with your expectations. People are always in a hurry to recommend nice people, but we should remember that we aren’t looking for nice, we are looking for results.

Ultimately it’s always going to be your health that’s on the line. Hear me now, if something doesn’t feel right with any procedure, speak up for yourself and politely but firmly say no. It’s your body, which means you don’t even have to explain yourself. You should never feel pressured to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable just to make someone else feel comfortable.

Good doctors aren’t always the most expensive, nor do they need to have the best bedside manner. They do, however, have to have one dead giveaway. Good people are busy people, and that’s okay if he or she brings results.

Try to keep this in mind. If you can pick up the phone and see the doctor (or dentist) the same afternoon, that should immediately be a red flag. Most competent doctors will be booked solid as good news always travels fast.

If you can get in to see your doctor at the drop of a hat, then perhaps you should wait for that other guy. Obviously, this is subject to your appointment not being an emergency. In that case, you can rest assured that most ER doctors are nurses are some of the most efficient people on the planet.

Remember the golden rule. Whenever you meet a healthcare professional be polite and respectful but don’t be afraid to ask probing questions. A good doctor/dentist will never feel threatened by an informed patient.

What did we learn from this?

The right doctor can be a godsend, but choose your new doctor/dentist with the same care you would choose a new (or used) car, and always do your homework. Ask questions and listen carefully to their answers.

I aim to provide engaging content that's enjoyable to read. I’m also the author of the Amazon bestseller “The Healing Point.”

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