Friday, January 11, 2013

Patient Tips If Your Doctor Sells His Practice

Dr. Cary Presant has just written an informative blog post, "Your doctor has sold his practice: 6 tips for patients".

Basically, more and more doctors are leaving private practice to become hospital employees.

Many will continue to practice good medicine, but the new arrangement can also create some potential conflicts-of-interest when doctors have to balance the patient's medical interests against practice requirements imposed by their new employers.

Here are some of the tips offered by Dr. Presant:
  • First, when your doctor is recommending tests or treatments or hospitalization for you, take the time to ask if you really the treatments – ask if the doctor would do the same for a family member
  • Second, ask for a second opinion to determine if you need the recommended care – this should be your standard reaction when tests are ordered
  • Third, ask the office manager and doctor is there is a performance requirement in the practice to generate more tests, treatments or admissions – these “goals” could be influencing the doctor’s decisions regarding your treatment
  • Fourth, take notes and record conversations with the doctor (on a smart phone or small tape recorder); doctors will be very honest when answering direct questions
  • Fifth, ask the doctor if the recommended treatment complies with national guidelines, or if it is different and why. Don’t know the guidelines? Take some time to research them before committing to any treatment
  • Finally, if you suspect your doctor has a conflict of interest, always get another opinion and if necessary, find another doctor in whom you have complete confidence. There are multiple online databases and forums where patients comment and critique different doctors, facilities and treatment courses – take advantage of the experiences of others. 
Also, sometimes the national guidelines may be appropriate for your particular individual case -- and sometimes they may not be.  You may need to seek additional opinions to know if the care you receive is best for you.

More than ever, it will be up to you to be your own best medical advocate.

(Read the full text of, "Your doctor has sold his practice: 6 tips for patients".)