Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorHow do you wind up with Dr. Marcus Welby instead of Dr Frankenstein?

I basically say that at this point, websites that grade doctors aren’t the most reliable way to find a physician.

Is there a better way?

Despite the advancements in medicine, the answer remains a simple: not as good as you’d like.

In fact, when I ask other docs what the best way is, it seems like the universal answer is the “old-fashioned way”. In other words, word of mouth.

Through family, friends, and social networks.

Sure, there are the online sites, there are doctors who advertise, insurance companies who can offer some guidance–as can state medical societies– and checking with the state medical board to find out if a doc has been disciplined.

In the next 24 months, there will be information posted by the government on quality of doctors, but it’s not here yet.

So back to the bottom line advice I give: first, ask someone you trust. Ask how they liked their doctor, how thorough the doctor seemed, how patient the doctor was with them, how she/he answered questions, took time, and included the patient in health care decisions. Also, how was the office? How was the waiting time? How was the staff? Obviously, its best to ask folks who are similar to your age and health.

When it comes to specialists, your best ally is your primary care. The answer I ask (and I have asked if I needed to see a specialist) is ” would you send yourself or a loved one to this doctor?” Fair, and very telling question.

Sure, this seems old-fashioned and overly basic. But until there comes a better way, it is one of the best ways. Dont be afraid to check out board certifications, residencies, hospital affiliations, the state medical board, your insurance company.

Heck, if you want to be sure, call the office, visit the office, do a trial run introductory visit to the office. It all helps.

But I still like the idea of using a friend you trust… to find someone to trust.


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