How to Find a Good Doctor, According to Doctors

Doctors, dentists, and nurses follow these rules when deciding who will take care of their health.


Ask hospital employees

“Their word trumps an Ivy League degree, prestigious titles, and charm.”—Marty Makary, MD, author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care

Choose a doctor who instructs others

“I’d look for a doctor who is certified to train other doctors. They are called ‘fellowship directors.’”—A plastic surgeon

When it’s serious, go to a teaching hospital

“You’ll get doctors involved with the latest in medicine. Even for simple cases, if there’s a complication that requires an assist device or a heart transplant, some hospitals may not be able to do it. At a university hospital, you also have the advantage of having a resident or physician bedside 24-7, with a surgeon on call always available.”—Tomas A. Salerno, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Don’t assume your primary care physician knows best

“Referrals may be politically motivated or be given because the doctors work within the same multi-specialty group.”—Howard Luks, MD, chief of sports medicine and arthroscopy at Westchester Medical Center and University Orthopaedics

Listen for subtle word clues

“We’re not going to tell you your doctor is incompetent, but if I say, ‘You have the right to a second opinion,’ that can be code for ‘I don’t like your doctor’ or ‘I don’t trust your doctor.’”—Linda Bell, RN, clinical practice specialist at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, California

It sounds trivial, but don’t overlook their magazines

“When choosing a dentist, check if the magazines in the waiting room are current. That shows attention to detail.”—Michael Alkon, DMD

 

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