Choosing the Best Doctors for Your Diabetes Management

David Mendosa | Sep 12th 2016 Apr 11th 2017

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When you have diabetes, you need to find doctors in several different specialties. You will likely see the primary care physician (PCP) more often than others, so selecting this one is especially important. But you also need to carefully pick an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist, a dentist, and perhaps also an endocrinologist and a dermatologist – unless you can rely on your PCP for those services.

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Integrity

Integrity is hard to judge, but not impossible. You may be able to find out if your state’s medical board has disciplined the doctor, or if a malpractice judgment was served. Casewatch has a worldwide, but incomplete, list. Some states, including New York and California, provide records of doctors subjected to disciplinary or other legal actions. A Google search may also help.

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Empathy

How you feel about your doctor is definitely important. To be successful with diabetes, you need to have a doctor you trust. A study that I reviewed here four years ago shows that when our doctors have more empathy with us, we do better than when our doctors have low empathy scores.

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Health insurance

Depending on the type of health insurance you have – an indemnity or a managed care plan (HMO, PPO, or POS) – your choice of doctors will vary. Especially if you are in an HMO, your choices will be limited. But any managed care plan can provide you with a list of options in each specialty. Indemnity plans reimburse your medical expenses regardless of who provides the service.

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Location

If at all possible, the office of your primary care physician should be relatively nearby. But don’t set narrow limits. When I fired a doctor who didn’t listen to me, the office of the one I chose was an hour from my home – and this doctor was the one who helped me more than any other. I know people who have travelled about 3,000 miles each way to see a top specialist.

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Doctors who are low-carb friendly

When you follow a low-carb diet, your doctor may not support your decision. You can either decide to ignore your doctor’s resistance to that diet, as I have often had to do, or find one who knows that diabetes is a disturbance of carbohydrate metabolism. To find doctors friendly to low-carb dieting, start by looking here.

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Other considerations

If you are lucky enough to have a wide choice of doctors who meet these primary considerations, check more factors: Do they have office hours that are convenient for you? Do your friends and neighbors rate them highly? Do they have a long waiting list for appointments? Do they provide an emergency after-hours contact?

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Use the "Ben Franklin sales close"

Your final decision needs to weigh these factors. Carefully limit the factors that you consider to be a deal breaker. The Ben Franklin sales close involves compiling a balance sheet of all the pros on one side of a single page, and all the cons on the other. When you do this for each doctor you are considering, picking the right one should become easier.

NEXT: 8 Ways to Live Longer and Better with Diabetes
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