Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding One in a Book

Do you have a doctor? Your very own primary care physician? One whose name you can correctly spell when filling out a form that asks for the name of your doctor? Or do you go to a clinic for checkups or when there is some kind of non-emergency medical problem?

I am a healthy guy who believes strongly in preventative medicine and I generally live a healthy lifestyle. But it has been several years since my last annual physical. Part of that delay is the result of wanting to change docs. Have you ever tried to find a new one?

My specific search involved geography, my health insurance plan and some other factors such as education, experience and patient ratings. I narrowed my search to two and learned as I tried to schedule an appointment that neither was taking new patients. One of the practices offered two other choices and I picked one at random, which leads me to two important questions: 1) am I stupid? And 2) is the whole health care system stupid?

There is no clear answer to either question. I know I am not stupid, but I do feel a bit silly because after spending hours checking out perspective doctors I end up picking one at random, with no information other than his association with my original first choice. I did look up info on him and determined that he met two of my requirements: he has enough experience and he has no negative ratings. But he is not a doctor I would have chosen in other circumstances.

The system is, however, stupid, at least in part. My most reliable method for finding a physician in the past was to ask select friends to recommend someone they trusted. Not one single friend in my county could do that. Many have no doctor and others go to an urgent care clinic when there is a problem.

Rather than procrastinate any more, I decided to keep my appointment today. This doctor seems knowledgeable and I have better rapport with him than the one he is replacing, but the two additional issues I need guidance on have to be done by other doctors and I couldn’t get my blood work done today because I didn’t fast first. Why? Because nobody told me I had to do that. So now I have to make another appointment for the blood work, then appointments with two other doctors I haven’t researched, then go back to the first doc for further consultation. I should point out, without getting too personal, that each of the other doctors will probably need a consultation appointment, then another appointment involving a procedure. So this annual physical will involve at least six separate doctor visits with doctors plus the blood work. All I got today was the good news that my blood pressure isn’t as high as I thought it was and I got a flu shot.

That is just part of my personal crap this week, by the way, but I’ll spare you the rest for now. This whole month is definitely challenging my usual positivity and problem-solving personality. Time to pour another glass of wine and post this.

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