Making a choice on your preferred doctor can be a long process and you should resist the temptation of rushing the process so as to get your treatment started as soon as possible.
Carefully choosing the doctor you need now (such as a good surgeon, radiologist, and/or oncologist) will pay off for years to come. Your relationship with this person will probably last through treatment into long-term follow-up care. These are some important steps you need to take to be able to make the best choice:
1-Make up your mind about the desired qualities you want in your doctor.
Before you start looking for a doctor, think about the qualities you want your doctor to have. A few ideas are listed below, but you may want to add others.
*Choose a doctor who has experience with mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and doctors have better success treating this cancer only if they have a lot of experience with it.
*You will probably need a doctor who is part of your health plan (often called a preferred provider) and/or accepts your health insurance. Otherwise, you may have to pay for your health care yourself.
*Pick a doctor who has privileges (is able to practice) at a hospital that you are willing to use. Doctors can only send patients to hospitals where they have admitting privileges.
*Choose a doctor you feel comfortable with. Languages spoken, gender, ethnicity, and educational background may be important factors for you to consider. You may also have your own preferences for certain personalities and bedside manners. Some people prefer their doctors to have a business-like manner, while others value a doctor who can help with their emotional health as well as their medical needs.
2-Make a list of doctors who might be a good fit
You can also start your search for a good mesothelioma doctor by asking your primary care doctor, usually your family physician to refer you to good specialists in this field. If you know people that are receiving treatment for this type of cancer, you can also ask them for other options of doctors
. Some hospitals and communities also have physician referral services available by phone or online. These allow you to learn more details about the doctors in your area, such as their areas of expertise, medical certifications, office locations, languages spoken, and so on. You can find these referral services through many hospitals by calling their main number or visiting the hospital Web site. Or you can ask your primary care doctor about them.
If you are in a health plan, you can begin by checking their list of doctors. This is usually available online or by calling the member services hotline. You will still want to find out more about each doctor before you decide.
3-Make the first visit to your doctor, call the doctors’ offices and make appointments.
Once you’ve found doctors that seem like a good fit for you, call their offices and ask whether they are covered by your health plan and are taking new patients. You may also want to find out which hospitals they work in and have admitting privileges for.
During this first appointment, ask them how long have they been managing mesothelioma? If they are surgeons ask them how many times have they carried out mesothelioma related surgeries, and what has been their success rates in these surgeries.
After the visit ask yourself how comfortable you feel with the doctor. One way to measure this is to ask yourself these questions after your appointment.
*Did the doctor give you a chance to ask questions?
*Did you feel like the doctor was listening to you?
*Did the doctor seem comfortable answering your questions?
*Did the doctor talk to you in a way that you could understand?
*Did you feel the doctor respected you?
*Did the doctor ask your preferences about different kinds of treatments?
*Did you feel like the doctor spent enough time with you?
Trust yourself when deciding whether this doctor is right for you. Keep in mind, though, that relationships take time to develop and you may need more than a single visit before you and your doctor really get to know each other.
4-Find out if the doctor is board certified.
Doctors who are board certified have had extra training in special treatment areas, such as medical oncology (cancer care), hematology (diseases of the blood), or gynecologic surgery (female reproductive system). They have taken and passed certification tests given by doctors in their field. To keep their certification, doctors must continue their education and keep up with advances and changes in their specialty area.
Not all doctors who are specialists are board certified. Doctors do not need to be board certified to be excellent caregivers. Still, more than 85% of doctors become board certified in at least 1 specialty.
To find out if a doctor is board certified, contact the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) at www.abms.org. The ABMS has a list of board certified doctors who subscribe to the ABMS service. You can search for all doctors in a certain specialty by state. Or you can type in the name of the doctor you have questions about to learn about their specialty. Information on doctors who have extra training and certification may also be available at your public library. Ask for the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, or get your librarian to help you.
5-Find out the experience of your prospective doctor
Find out how long the doctor has been in practice. Ask how many people with cancer she has treated. If you are thinking about surgery or special procedure, you may want to ask about the number of these procedures she has performed. How many patients is the doctor currently treating? How many are cancer patients? How much experience does she/he have with mesothelioma cancer?
Along with finding out about the doctor’s experience, you may also want to find out who the leading authorities in the field are. A visit to a medical library may be useful. You can do research on the Internet, too. You can start with us, or go to other respected Web sites like www.cancer.gov, healthfinder.gov, or medlineplus.gov. Look for the names of doctors who have written about the cancer you have and whose work is most often quoted. If your doctor has done research and had it published, you may ask to see copies of those articles at the library. By doing so, you will learn more about her approach to cancer treatment.
6-Find out which hospitals is the doctor affiliated
Where you will get inpatient cancer care is determined by where your doctor practices. Find out where you would go for surgery or other care. Check with your health insurance company, to see which doctors and hospitals your insurance plan covers.
7-Find out if the doctor is affiliated with any medical school
If the doctor is affiliated to a respected medical school it may suggest that a doctor is a leader in her field. Doctors who teach and who also practice medicine often are more abreast with the latest information concerning that type of cancer and they are usually in contact with medical experts from around the country.
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