Why You Need To Interview Every New Doctor

Yes, you need to do this.

Photo by Charles on Unsplash

If you are in the market for a new primary care doctor, or even a specialist, it is imperative to your health to both research and interview whomever you are referred to or have the capability to choose as a new doctor.

A good standing on Healthgrades does not guarantee that you are getting a doctor who is sympathetic to your particular situation, has extensive experience in the field you need healthcare in or, in the case of choosing a PCP, a good rating does not mean that PCP is capable of taking care of you or your child’s health.

As the consumer, you, the patient, need to know if the physician in question has been and is currently active in the research of his field and whether his/her delivery of care is as up to date as possible.

These are the primary questions you want answered.

Old and outdated medical treatment methods and recommendations are rampant. Although the evidence for and research on new and much-improved healthcare delivery in all areas of medicine is out there for physicians to digest and implement, for whatever reason, they do not often follow new standards and plans of care.

One primary example is the poor and inefficient follow-up regarding medication regimens…specifically the effectiveness and management. This is, unfortunately, a mainstay in the medical field.

For example, most medications a patient is prescribed require an every 3-month lab testing for liver and kidney functionality and medication absorption effectiveness.

During all of my home health experience, I had only one physician with one patient comply with this requisite. However, I encouraged all my patients to demand this, citing the already compromised state that many of these patients’ systems were in.

Patients often have multi-symptoms that point to an underlying undiagnosed or misdiagnosed condition, which is why the patient does not see improved health on a certain medication or a certain plan of care.

Pain origin, thyroid, cardiac and renal (kidney) problems are some of the most often missed diagnoses in a host of unanswered signs and symptoms.

You need a doctor willing to go the extra mile after his intentional and patient listening to your symptoms and concerns.

The length of time a physician has been in his specialty is very often not a reliable indicator of his expertise nor that he has any intention of pulling all the stops for your situation or even knows what to do. Therefore, anything less than his best is not adequate.

A personal example of this type of concern is in the case of my 20-year-old daughter’s healthcare experiences (this is just ONE negative and life-threatening experience we have had with the medical field) and the recent appointment my daughter and I waited for with a local hematologist.

My daughter had 2 strokes before her 17th birthday, and no medical professional has any answers for us almost 2 years later.

We were told Hematology would “have her answer.”

Marilyn sat in the waiting room for an hour, then waited in the backroom for an hour, and when the hematologist walked in to see her, he was holding a few papers in his hand. He threw some information on Cocaine abuse onto the patient gurney and told her she’d stop having strokes if she “stopped doing drugs.”

My daughter was horrified. She does not do drugs. Her 82-page report from Vanderbilt University where she was treated for the last stroke would have told him that had he read it before her appointment, for which she had waited several months.

In desperation and disgust, she responded loudly that she was not a drug user and wanted answers. The hematologist then wrote a recommendation for Rheumatology, remarking, “They can find out what’s wrong with you.” and walked out of the room, having asked no questions, read no reports, and offering no interest in her (very bizarre and extended) case.

She has had very similar experiences with other doctors, as have I, my other children, and many, many of my own personal patients of various disease processes.

For the positive longevity of your own life and the meeting of the medical standard of care for your situation as a patient, I recommend, as a long time nurse, the following tactics for interviewing your physicians:

  1. First, do your own online research on the physician’s personal background, schooling, research, and awards in particular areas of medicine and health and read all feedback from patients. (Be fair and take into account the good and the bad.)
  2. Ask your insurance company what complaints or compliments that physician has had over the years.
  3. Has the physician ever been cited for behavior not becoming a medical professional or ever had his license challenged, rescinded, or revoked? (If so, why? Some professionals I have worked with or received care from had had their license challenged FOR going against the grain for patients.)
  4. Give medical scenarios in your interview/consult appointment with a new physician, asking what his plan of action would be if any symptoms you currently have or could have in your areas of concern could not be answered by traditional testing and procedures. Take notes.
  5. What is his stance on antibiotics, pain medicine, CBD, and alternative medicine?
  6. Will he order (diagnostics) testing for you that seems outside the norm if no other treatment or testing has produced results?

*Buy yourself a Lippincott or other brand drug guide not older than five years.

To compliment your best health decisions in choosing the professionals in your care, you also need to establish yourself as a reliable reporter of your own conditions.

It is important to be able to offer a healthcare provider some proof of your concerns.

I strongly advise patients to make a habit of always documenting their symptoms at home with times and coinciding events, document daily blood pressures, and follow any other doctor’s initial plans of care.

Unless medications prescribed to you produce adverse (negative and intolerable) reactions (or are blatantly ill-advised per a reliable drug guide to take with a co-diagnosis or other current medication you are on), take any medications given and document the time it takes to see a positive effect from them.

When concerns arise, call the office RN or LVN and discuss your questions and literature (drug guide) or if you have opposing medical directions or results with which you are not comfortable.

Document when you begin medications or when treatments were ordered/started and document the results. Be specific.

This type of information will be in your arsenal when seeing a new physician or beginning care and establishing a positive relationship with that physician.

Although there are dedicated and progressive healthcare providers in the current sea of physicians, the fact that it is commonplace in the US for healthcare to be delivered poorly or inadequately means a patient must protect and educate themselves about who is to care for them and on the most up to date and relevant methods used to deliver that care.

A patient must be ardently proactive when researching their questions and symptoms with a doctor and researching and interviewing new or even current physicians.

After all, the bottom line is it is your life on the line, not theirs.

The Road to Wellness

Musings on the road to a healthier life

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store