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How do you find a good doctor?

Finding a good doctor is a little like playing the lottery -- you have to pick a name from a list of approved providers from your insurance company and then find one who's accepting new patients. Then you have to hope that you can actually trust him or her to both know what he or she is doing and put your needs first.

That's a lot to make work all at once. Getting a "new patient" appointment can take a frustrating amount of time. If you end up hating the doctor -- or just not trusting him or her -- you have to start the search all over again.

Is there any way you can try to check a doctor out before you make an appointment? Try these tips:

1. Go to Google

Everyone's favorite search engine can often turn up a lot of information on a doctor you're considering. There are several websites, like Vitals and Health Grades, that let real patients rate their experiences with the doctor and the office staff.

Some only allow patients to use a point or "star" system for various aspects of care, like wait time, trust factor, staff friendliness and so on, while other sites allow patients to describe their experiences in detail.

Don't dismiss a doctor over a single bad review -- you can't please everyone. But look for trends in the reviews like "didn't feel like he listened," or "she ordered a lot of tests without explanation" to pick up on cues that a doctor may not be patient-focused.

2. Be wary of advertisers

It's normal for doctors to announce a new practice, a change in location or an added specialty. A newly opened practice will probably advertise as well until they get a solid client base.

However, doctors that put up big billboards all the time advertising for patients with all kinds of conditions should make you ask questions. Why does this doctor need so much advertisement? Is there a big patient turnover? Is the doctor pushing patients through assembly-line style in order to rack up the insurance fees?

The last thing you want to do is end up the victim of medical malpractice because you didn't do your research before you picked a doctor or didn't trust your instincts. If something feels wrong to you -- dump the doctor and find a new one.

Source: CNN, "Should you trust your doctor?," Dr. Anthony Youn, accessed Dec. 01, 2017

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