When deciding on a family physician or specialist, avoid picking a name from your preferred provider handbook based on location or other minor reasons. Take the time necessary to find the doctor that will be the best fit for you and your health care needs.
When researching a doctor, several questions should be asked:
- Is he or she board certified? Board certification indicates that a doctor meets high standards in areas such as knowledge, experience and education.*
- Does he or she have lawsuits filed against him or her now or in the past? Find out if a physician or specialist is or has been accused of medical malpractice or faced other disciplinary action.*
- Do people you trust recommend him or her? Ask around! Talk to family, friends, colleagues and other physicians about their impressions of a potential doctor.
- Is he or she a faculty member of a university medical center? A doctor working at a university medical center often has access to the latest medical advancements.
*The following resources can help you find out if a doctor is board certified or has or is currently facing disciplinary action: Medical Board of California License Search System, American Board of Medical Specialties and Federation of State Medical Boards.
Tips for Taking Control of Your Health and Safety
After deciding on a physician to attend to your medical needs, it is important to maintain control of your health care.
During the course of treatment, especially before undergoing or forgoing major procedures or treatments, you are your own best advocate.
- Get second opinions and, if needed, third and fourth opinions, especially after a biopsy.
- Never go to the hospital alone, bring an advocate. Ask a friend or family member to go to the hospital with you.
- Speak up. Do not be intimidated by inattentive and rude nurses or arrogant doctors when you have a question or want further clarification.
- Have nurses double-check medication. Make sure that the right drug is being given in the proper dosage.
- Never be afraid to ask for help.
If you have been injured and believe your doctor made mistakes or errors in your treatment, speak with a medical malpractice attorney.