WASHINGTON - With cold and flu season is in full swing, many people may be thinking about their primary care doctor and whether it's time to find a new one.
Washington Consumers' Checkbook Magazine details traits common among good physicians and red flags for doctors people may wish to avoid.
Patients, for example, shouldn't find it particularly difficult to get an appointment with their primary care physician. It should also not be hard to get a call returned after alerting calling the doctor's office about an immediate concern.
"The doctor should see you within a day or so, at the very least," says Robert Krughoff, founder and president of Checkbook.
When choosing a new doctor, it may be helpful to consult family and friends, Krughoff says. Beyond asking simply if a friend or family member likes their doctor, people should find out if the recommended physician takes a complete medical history, listens and communicates well and if they feel comfortable asking questions. In addition, potential patients should ask if doctors explains medical conditions, treatments and what to expect.
Other important considerations include whether a physician is associated with a hospital that admits patients, whether they keep electronic medical records and what health insurance they accept.
"This is the person you go to first who guides you through the health care system -- really the most important provider in the health care system," Krughoff says of primary care physicians.
Checkbook Magazine says, "Your primary care physician should be a general practitioner, family practitioner, internist, or pediatrician (for children), geriatric specialist, or perhaps an obstetrician/gynecologist (for women)."
Finding a new doctor may be difficult during the height of cold and flu season.
"You want to start soon because this will not be a real easy time to get your first appointment with a doctor," says Krughoff.
Checkbook has compiled ratings on 643 local primary care doctors.
For the next week, you can read the ratings on 643 local primary care doctors for free.
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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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