Sunday, January 11, 2009
CLINICAL PEARLS -2 Patient Research
While remaining healthy is the goal, we, or someone we love, may, at some time, require medical care. Having a primary medical physician whom you can trust and communicate with, freely and openly, is invaluable.
The NYTimes article, In Search of a Good Doctor, by Pauline Chen, MD, provides valuable information for researching physicians and hospitals, as follows:
Researching Physicians and Hospitals:
1. State boards of medicine: State medical boards can provide information regarding a doctor’s licensure, training and history of disciplinary action.
• To locate state boards, the American Medical Association provides a listing. (www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2645.html)
2. The American Board of Medical Specialties (www.abms.org/): The A.B.M.S. has a doctor-finder function that will pull up a physician’s board certification.
3. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (www.talkingquality.gov/compendium/index.html) : The A.H.R.Q. has compiled health care “report cards” that provide comparative information on the quality of health plans, hospitals, medical groups, individual physicians, nursing homes and other providers of care.
4. The United States Department of Health and Human Services, Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov):
This site provides information from participating hospitals on how well those hospitals care for patients with certain medical conditions or surgical procedures. Also included are the results from patient surveys on quality of care during hospital stays.
As for researching conditions, the article suggests going to patient advocacy group sites for condition specific information. I do believe some valuable information may be gleaned from these sites. However, bear in mind that many, if not all, of the patient advocacy groups are funded by the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and act as an extension of their marketing efforts: “what appears as awareness-raising activities are really designed to change awareness in ways that serve the marketing needs of their latest products (Selling Sickness by Ray Moynihan).”
"The best defense is a good offense."
Commit to, and work at, staying healthy throughout your life!