Doctors: How To Choose Your Doctor

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doctorsI know that I am hard on doctors in regards to what I say about them at times, especially when I am remembering how I have been treated.

I may be a tad angry but my overall estimation of doctors (nurses too) is that they are awesome. AND I do mean awesome.  I mean think about this:

Becoming A Doctor Requires Years of Study

First doctors study their tails off and stuff their brains full of huge amounts of information that would be so daunting to the average person they would never make it past roll call of the second semester of premed let alone medical school.

Just the course A&P (anthropology and physiology) is enough to kill thousands of brain cells due to overload and nurses must take this course too. And …

Doctors have to do this “cramming” of information for at least 8 years (4 years premed and 4 years medical school). Then they have internship and residency which could take another 2-5 years. That is just to become a doctor. Then …

Doctors Often Work Long Hours

Second they may need to work LONG hours especially if they work in a hospital as a hospitalist or an ER Physician and some type of disaster happens or disease runs rampant. ER physician work schedules are usually 6-12 hour shifts but those can double even triple in times of great need. And they are a doctor 24 hours per day/night not just a 40 hour week with all holidays off and up to 30 days vacation per year like some other civilian occupations.

Being a Doctor Take Courage

vomits-on-physicianThirdly doctors (nurses too, maybe even more), especially those working in ER units, get showered with gross bodily fluids on a daily basis (blood, vomit, crap, etc).

These bodily fluids can be a major source of bacteria and viruses that put these medical professionals at risk of contracting the same diseases, some of which could kill them.

They See Nightmare Trauma, Illness, Disease

Fourth they are subjected to (see and fix) horrible traumas that could invoke nightmares for life. Gunshot victims, crash victims, burn victims, war casualties, horrific illness and disease, some of the worst visuals a human could see, etc.

Doctors and nurses help people suffering, dying from horrible viruses that may be incurable and thus are also subjected to contracting that same pathogen themselves. And again … After doing all they can, all they know how to do, they lose patients, have to tell loved ones and have to live with it. Life, learning to be a doctor and then being one, can really suck at times.

As much as I might admire those who work in the medical profession because of certain characteristics such as the selfless heroism some portray in times of dire need without thought of personal risk there are some things that irritate me.

What really irritates me about doctors 

First: They don’t listen. For whatever reason they seem to think all patients lie and so just about everything we say is irrelevant and can be discarded as useless babble. Instead of thinking hey this guy/woman is sick, why would he/she lie to me and seriously consider what the patient thinks and says they just do what they do and are often wrong in their diagnosis because of it. It’s like they are actually a vet and speaking with a dog who really can’t tell them their symptoms  AND don’t get me wrong at times the patient is comatose and can’t speak in which case they have to wing it and simply use their brain.

Second: IF they have an intelligent patient who does have a capable working brain with an informed opinion or idea and the patient shares that opinion or idea or asks a tough question the doctor may not have an answer for, the doctor then rolls their eyes and asks the patient what medical school they earned their M.D. from. I swear the next time that happens I am gonna say “Harvard how about you?”

Third: They get paid whether they are successful or not. I have been in the sales field ever since I was discharged from the Marine Corps. In most cases I didn’t get paid unless I sold something which meant that if I didn’t sell and the product, service or idea didn’t stay sold but instead was returned I either didn’t get paid or that paid commission was taken from my next check. BUT …

IF YOU DIE your physician still gets paid. ALL the medical personnel including but not limited to the hospital and its personnel get paid by someone, usually insurance. This doesn’t do anything good in regards to great service or correct diagnosis and treatment. No matter what happens to you, they win. Whether or not you lose isn’t an issue when it comes to money. They get paid regardless of outcome.

I wanted to be a doctor

I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid but later discovered I don’t like the body fluid thing, anyway … Dr. Biever, who was my families railroad physician (my dad worked on the railroad as a brakeman/conductor) actually used to lend me his books so I could read about medical doctor stuff. I liked learning about diseases because my father had cancer at that time and I was often sick as well.

 incompetent doctorI can’t tell you Dr. Biever, now deceased, was a medical genius because he didn’t listen to me when I was sick or if he did he didn’t discover what was causing my troubles at that time. In fact he told my mom and dad I was a hypochondriac. Turns out I am a celiac and Celiac Disease is likely the reason I now have various conditions, one of which is pancreatitis.

In a way maybe Doctor Biever did me a favor because if he’d have caught the Celiac Disease I probably would never have been cleared for duty in the Marine Corps. I wouldn’t have had recurrent acute pancreatitis and so would not have been divinely shown how to beat pancreatitis and authored this blog site sharing information that seems to be helping some folks heal and live healthier, less painful lives.

In His Word (the Bible) God says that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). My life is a good example of that. God is faithful, He is truth.

7 Tips to help you choose your doctors

doctors - choosing your doctorsThese tips to help you choose a doctor are most helpful in choosing your primary care physician or PCP. It is almost impossible to choose your ER/ED physician.

Tip #1 is to understand that doctors think they only work for themselves but who actually pays them? In one way or another you do in most cases. Whether you pay by cash, credit card, insurance or a combination you pay them which means they technically work for you and me. That is why I interview them before I decide to accept them as my doctor. Now, this is impossible to do in some settings such as the ER/ED. In an emergency you get who is on shift at that hospital. It’s a dice roll. Hopefully you roll good numbers 😆 

Tip # 2 is to understand that doctors are human and they fail. Unfortunately, many physicians believe it is impossible for them to be wrong. But they often fail to diagnose correctly and if this happens too often they are useless and should be replaced.

I personally believe that if a doctor can not diagnose me correctly AT LEAST 80% of the time on the first or second visit I need to look elsewhere. If I have an appointment with a specialist and after my 5 minute explanation of symptoms, no tests, he tells me “You’re too young to have anything serious, I THINK you just have a spastic colon” it is time to do what I did which was to tell him he was an idiot and walk out. I don’t want the many differential diagnosis’ routine, the myriad of appointments. I want the correct diagnosis most of the time on my first visit with a problem. For example an initial visit with a skilled physician may go like this after playing 20 questions:

“I am fairly certain you have acute pancreatitis but I need to get you thoroughly checked out with various tests and the best and fastest place is the hospital so I’m going to get you admitted because you also need treatment.”

Now he/she {the patient) may need more blood work, more scans or invasive tests to determine the correct diagnosis which may or may not be able to be done on a first visit basis and of course in that case a 2nd visit will likely be needed but that diagnosis is expected to be correct.

Three, four, five trips or more for a correct diagnosis is indicative of poor medical ability. I should NEVER have to diagnose myself, a family member or know more than my doctor about any condition or disease.

I may have been previously diagnosed with a condition and studied it voraciously and thus actually having more knowledge than my doctor. This is a possible exception BUT if I stay with that doctor and they don’t want to listen to my superior knowledge it’s time to fire them and move on.

doctors eye rollTip # 3 is to find a doctor whose ego doesn’t stop him/her from listening to your information, ideas and thoughts. IF by chance I happen to know a ton more than my doctor about my condition and have proof information from reliable sources (actual case studies or scientific research papers/articles) he/she should be able to shut down that ego and listen even learn what they don’t yet know.

Or if for example I happen to know that in severe cases of nausea, which can be seen in celiacs or those with acute, acute recurrent and/or chronic pancreatitis, that it is more beneficial to partially shut down the serotonin pathway using a 5-HT 3 antagonists (called serotonin blockers) such as zofran ( ondansetron, granisetron, dolasetron, and palonosetron) and the dopamine pathway using a dopamine antagonists such as reglan (metoclopramide), compazine (prochlorperazine), or phenergan (promethazine) in combination to stop the nausea and vomiting, he/she should listen.

And that in my case due to the destruction of my small intestines from celiac disease that zofran odt and promethazine suppositories absorb faster and work better than regular pills and of course if you are already vomiting suppositories (when injections are not available) are a better choice because it is really hard to puke them up … OR …

That I do not want narcotics for pain because I KNOW that 800-1200 mgs of Ibuprofen will stop the inflammation of an acute pancreatitis attack even if they don’t and they shouldn’t roll their eyes and ask what medical school I attended because … I may say Harvard and ask them where they studied, IF I don’t already know from checking their credentials before our visit.

Tip # 4 is to do a “quality check.” Ask around. Talk to others who have used him/her and whether they are happy. Check reviews that can be found on certain sites such as Healthgrades dot com.

In the case of specialized medicine check support groups and review sites to find out if there are people who have used him/her and get their evaluation.

You can also use the Physician Compare tool on to see if your doctor provides high-quality care. Also check to see whether he/she is board-certified through the Certification Matters site, which the American Board of Medical Specialties maintains. Board-certified indicates he/she has met the licensing requirements of their states AND has also passed comprehensive exams in internal medicine. Board-certified doctors have to keep up with the latest developments in their field to maintain their certification. This fact may add towards your confidence in them and peace of mind.

screen doctors by making cold calls to officeTip # 5 is “make a call or two.” Yes, cold call their office and check the staff, how they answer the phone, answer questions and get a feel first hand as to whether you may have a “fit.” Chances are if the support staff is awesome the doctor will be too.

Also check to see that your personal needs will be a priority. I mean ask to see what the doctor is really good at for example: Some primary care doctors are really good at sports medicine, but if you’re not a serious athlete in your senior years, that may not be helpful to you. Some doctors may have a special interest in the pancreas, pancreatitis (bingo), diabetes care and have a large population of pancreas patients in their practice. Those are things to ask when you call. What trips that doctors trigger as far as a potential specialization field?

doctor health checklistTip # 6 is “make a list and check it twice.” Make a list of questions to ask you prospective doctor. Ask things about them you don’t know or to clarify what you may have learned by cold calling his/her office such as:

Where did they do their residency?

For how long?

What do they like most about medicine?

What area of medicine intrigues them most?

Do they actually specialize in that area? etc etc etc and then explain your reason for coming in (what your problem is) and watch what he/she actually does to arrive at a diagnosis so you can do your own comprehensive review.

Tip # 7 is “trust your gut.” After your first appointment with the new prospective doctor sit down and do your own comprehensive review and ask yourself questions such as:

1. Did he/she make me feel comfortable at ease and important?

2. Was there enough time for the appointment to meet my needs?

3. Did he/she answer all my questions?

4. Were the answers to my questions good qualified responses with easy to understand explanations?

5. Did the proposed plan of action make good common sense?

6. Am I completely satisfied with this doctor?

The answers you receive from your own evaluation should give you an idea as to whether you should pursue a doctor/patient relationship with any particular physician.

As you may find while reading articles on this site or visiting my Facebook Beating Pancreatitis page or my Beating Pancreatitis Support group you may read where others have had poor experiences with doctors as well.

It is true many doctors suffer from arrogance, a god complex, don’t listen, can’t seem to understand that a patient may be highly intelligent and well informed enabling them to have a qualified opinion or idea about what may be wrong with them or simply have a bedside manner that is repugnant but for the most part they mean well.

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