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Selecting a Doctor (cont.)

Start Early

The best time to choose a doctor is when you don't need one. Don't wait until you or a loved one is faced with an illness or emergency to begin looking for a doctor. This only adds stress to the decision-making process and increases the chances of making a choice you are unhappy with.

Many people often seek advice from family, friends, or coworkers about the right choice for a doctor. These are certainly good places to start and are often the most reliable and readily available sources. A number of other sources can further broaden your search.

  • County, state, or national medical societies: Many may have phone referral or information centers, and many have Internet information sites. One needs to remember that some of them will recommend any doctor who is a member of the society and each society has different qualifications for membership.
  • Web-based searches for board certified doctors are available at the American Board of Medical Specialties or by the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.
  • Various referral agencies can help. It is important to evaluate the role of the referral agency. Are they charging the doctor a fee to be recommended ? Are they a neutral rating agency/web site?
  • Many community hospitals have "Find-a-Doctor" referral centers. These doctors usually have privileges to practice at the referring hospitals.
  • Your insurance plan will have a list of participating doctors in your area.
  • When seeking a specialist, the best referral source is your primary care physician.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/24/2015

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