Finding a Doctor for your Chronic Pain

  • Stuck with a bad doctor, thankful to have a good doctor or somewhere in between; which one are you? Finding a good doctor or keeping a good doctor is very important when dealing with chronic conditions. Good doctoring provides clear treatment pathways and a clear understanding of conditions. Bad doctoring leaves confusion, frustration, and dissatisfaction. You, as the consumer, need to be privy to ways for finding a good doctor. And you, as the consumer, need to be aware of the current conditions that threaten to take your good doctor away.  No one wants to be stuck with a bad doctor or stuck without a doctor. And nobody wants to lose a good doctor. But these days, doctor shortages in the area of primary care, pain management, and geriatrics seem to be threatening access now and into the future unless the healthcare system is improved. Learning ways to find a good doctor and keep a good doctor is more important than ever.

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    Finding a doctor can be difficult. Those moving to another town, those about to lose a doctor, or those who need to change doctors need to anticipate that the search for a doctor can take time, especially when you have a chronic condition like pain. The first step might be to ask around. Most people will think to ask friends and family. But what about asking other health care providers like pharmacists, physical therapists and nurses? These professionals work with many doctors in a general region every day; thus, these professionals get to know the habits and professionalism of the various doctors fairly well. You would be surprised how much an ancillary professional can tell you about a particular doctor in town.

     

    If you cannot get firsthand knowledge about a doctor, then utilizing a search service provided by specialty boards, professional associations and societies can be helpful. For example, to find a physiatrist you can use the AAPM&R website to find one near you. Speaking of finding a specialist, your primary care provider often gets to know specialist in the area and can get you pointed in the right direction with a referral. Never be afraid to ask for a referral because no offense should be taken. Getting a second opinion is your right as a consumer. If you have a very special problem, use the PUBMED database of scientific articles to find out who is doing the latest research about that particular problem. Traveling might become necessary in order to get special attention from an expert.

     

    Once you have found a doctor, set up an initial appointment and treat that appointment like an interview with you as the interviewer doing the hiring. Ask questions about education, background, treatment plans and expectations. After your first appointment, you should have a good idea whether or not you believe in the new doctor. If you do not believe in the new doctor, any treatment rendered has less chance of being successful. Finding a doctor that you believe is critical for success.

     

    Maybe you already have a doctor you trust, believe, and like; if that is the case, then hold on tight. Lately, more and more doctors are going out of business or moving. This trend is very likely to not only continue, but also worsen unless the Medicare payment system is fixed. The broken Medicare payment system is threatening access to health care for seniors now and in the future," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD. All doctors treating the elderly and disabled are in immediate danger because of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate payment cuts that are looming. On December 1st of this year, doctors will take a 23% payment reduction with an additional 6.5% on January 1, 2011. That is nearly a 30% payment reduction within the next two months unless something is done by Congress. The likelihood of Congress doing anything prior to their two month holiday in December and January is slim.

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    If you value your doctor and have Medicare medical insurance, you need to contact your Representative about your fear of losing your doctor now. Call 1-800-833-6354, enter your zip code and voice your concerns. The seriousness of this situation cannot be overemphasized. If you want to keep your doctor, act now.

     

    Finders, keepers is a very serious business when it comes to quality healthcare. Finding a good doctor can make a huge difference to someone with a chronic condition. And keeping a good doctor is just as important, but may become very difficult in the very near future. Everyone could be losing this game if Medicare grinds to a halt. Sadly, doctors who cannot afford to stay in business might be forced to turn patients away or close the doors completely. With fewer doctors in business, patients could be left out in the cold without a doctor to care for their ailments. With the current healthcare system, many Americans will become losers, weepers.

     

Published On: November 12, 2010