Trust me! I’m a doctor.

Do you give more attention to finding a roofer than you do to finding a doctor?  If you do, you’re not alone.

Today more than ever the doctor/patient relationship relies on information.  Perhaps we should call this relationship the patient/doctor relationship.    Why?  Because the burden of information in the relationship lies with the patient.  Yes, the doctor must know the medicine.  However, the patient has to be educated, not only about the relevant disease/ illness and its treatment, but also ABOUT THE DOCTOR.  A recommendation from a friend, neighbor, family member or other physician is a good start.  But it isn’t enough.

You’re going to have surgery.  Where did your surgeon train?  How many of your type of surgery is performed at that institution weekly?  By your doctor (on humans – not just in the lab)?

Remember, while your friend’s recommendation may be good, it may be based more on personality than on medical/surgical expertise.  Certainly you must feel comfortable with the doctor … comfortable enough to ask questions, to tell the absolute truth, to question and complain.  Your doctor MUST be able and willing to listen to you.  However, it isn’t charm that wields a scalpel or writes a prescription.  Credentials, knowledge and expertise do that.

I can think of only one medical specialty where bedside manner MIGHT trump credentials.  That would be psychiatry (for psychotherapy, not for medicine management).  In psycho-therapeutic psychiatry, the self is the instrument.  If the self of the psychiatrist and your self don’t click, it’s a no win situation.

So, if you’re reading this blog, you have Internet access and are computer literate.  Look up your doctor and a few others for comparison.  Meet more than one.  (OK, not getting into the insurance issue here.  It’s a cozy snowy evening and I want don’t my blood pressure to rise.)

You are the patient.  You are primary.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/health/18chen.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN

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