What You Should Know When Choosing the Perfect Family Doctor

By Liz Anoushka

Feeling unwell is never a welcome experience but receiving quality healthcare in a farmiliar environment with a doctor you can trust with your life, is a great relief! Here are some tips that should help you find the right doctor and avoid common mistakes many of us have made.

Personal Biases

It’s easy to settle for a doctor that’s your friend, a friend of a friend, spouse or relative. It’s understandable seeing you know them to some degree and feel comfortable already. The downside to this is it biases your judgment of their actual competence and qualifications, among other things.

When your health and life are in question, you want the best possible doctor you can afford. You should keep an open mind when asking for recommendations or setting out to discover your own doctor (s).

Qualifications & Licensing

It’s helpful when friends or other patients recommend a doctor they know. They could say the doctor is highly trained and experienced. While this might be true or not, you should do your own research. Make sure to know that the doctor is adequately qualified and has all relevant licensing.

The doctor’s training should match the condition for which you would want to consult or receive tretament. Their licences, among other things, should be authentic and verifiable. Tread with caution if your potential doctor has been involved in a scandal or they come up with a story about how they forgot to renew their licence. In this case you only believe after seeing, only decide after you have seen the documents and had time to examine them.

Professionalism & Integrity

Reputation is key. Many people and patients are often unknowingly exposed to risks of abuse and harm in various forms. Sometimes this can be due to a doctor who lacks proper values and principles. Doctors are held to certain codes of conduct and regulations, make sure you observe your potential doctor on a few occasions to check whether they actually follow professional codes of conduct in their practice.

The patient-doctor relationship can get too comfortable too soon so make sure you set clear boundaries as soon as possible and don’t tolerate misconduct, sexual harrasment, extortion, dishonesty, or gossip. A doctor who betrays the confidence of his other patients should be avoided. A doctor who gets excited to take you on just because they think you’re rich and will charge you highly or unrealistic fees is not worth the risk. Find another.

Compassionate and Respectful

As ‘good’ as a doctor may be, stay away if you sense arrogance, rudeness, prejudice, discrimination, and disrespect. Your doctor should be able to effortlessly show compassion, empathy and respect for you, other patients and colleagues. Why other patients and colleagues? Well, because it’s important how your doctor behaves towards other people as that can tell you a lot about who they are.

Does your potential doctor patronise you even subtly? Do they jump in to judge you when you try to explain your symptoms or needs? Do they make you feel they are doing you a favour or that perhaps they are “God’s gift to you” regardless of whether it’s a free, subsidised, insured, or full payment consultation and treatment.

Listening & Empowering

Misdiagnosis is common. You could end up taking the wrong medication or dose for the wrong condition. Your condition could worsen, cost you more in additional treatment and examinations, trigger another condition altogether or death. Your doctor may be trained but they’re still as human as you, capable of mistakes and errors. Choose a doctor who is patient with you, guides you to explaining your symptoms better, shares his or her thoughts based on your condition and not generalisations they have picked up from their interactions with other patients.

The doctor should share information to help you avoid or prevent a similar condition from happening or worsening in the future. They should be open to you asking questions to better understand their reasons for their conclusions. Your potential doctor should consistently explain to you the options for treatment, cost, potential side effects and guide you to making a choice. If your symptoms necessitate laboratory tests, make sure you don’t settle for a “doctor’s guess” otherwise you might as well just see your local Pharmacist or Chemist for that.

Not One But Two Doctors

No one is right all the time and more often than not, you will need a second opinion. Having more than one doctor can protect you from bias and manipulation and help you get a more balanced take on your health. A second doctor can be helpful when one is not available at a particular time (doctors are extremely busy people, may be pursuing further certifications, have a life, or could be sick too).

Overtime, an awesome family doctor can become manipulative or deceitful and thus leave patients no choice but to file a lawsuit. It’s hard to pick on potential abuse and manipulation when your health is based entirely on the judgement and conclusions of a single doctor over the years. Also, different doctors treat different conditions, sometimes you will need a general practitioner but other times a specialist. Should your doctor claim to be able to treat “all and any” condition, forget them and keep searching. You’re in no rush to make regrettable decisions that could affect your health and life in the long term.

Great doctors are out there waiting to help you improve the quality of your life and health. Just be careful not to fall victim to quacks and people who might be out to manipulate you.

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