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The Nurse Attorney, P.A.
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Bradenton 941-210-4220 Sarasota 941-254-2501

How to Choose a Doctor

Contemplative ManHow does the average person find a safe doctor? How do you find out about the doctor’s background, training, experience and whether the doctor has committed malpractice on other patients? In this day and age, it pays to do some research and get informed!

Here are some key points to consider when selecting a doctor for yourself or a loved one:

  • Physician credentials and licensure: There are two types of physicians who can practice medicine in the U.S.: MDs (Medical Doctors) and DOs (Doctors of Osteopathy). Less than 10% of practicing physicians in the U.S. are DOs. M.D.s practice “allopathic medicine,” the classical form of medicine, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases and the use of drugs and surgery to treat symptoms and causes of illness. DOs practice “osteopathic medicine,” which has historically relied more on addressing the cause and prevention of disease or illness and the role of the musculoskeletal system in illness and disease. Both forms of medicine incorporate drugs and surgery as valid treatment modalities, and both MDs and DOs complete a 4 year post-graduate program, and must pass the same licensing exam to be admitted to practice medicine.

  • Physician credentials and licensure: There are two types of physicians who can practice medicine in the U.S.: MDs (Medical Doctors) and DOs (Dr. of Osteopathy). Less than 10% of practicing physicians in the U.S. are DOs. M.D.s practice “allopathic medicine,” the classical form of medicine, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases and the use of drugs and surgery to treat symptoms and causes of illness. DOs practice “osteopathic medicine,” which has historically relied more on addressing the organic cause and prevention of disease or illness and the role of the musculoskeletal system in illness and disease. Both forms of medicine incorporate drugs and surgery as valid treatment modalities, and both MDs and DOs complete a 4 year post-graduate program, and must pass the same licensing exam to be admitted to practice medicine.
  • Training and experience in the medical specialty needed, and whether the doctor is Board Certified in the medical specialty (see the information below on “Board Certification”).
  • Communication: The doctor’s ability to provide clear explanations of conditions and treatments, and who welcomes questions. Communication is the key to a successful physician-patient relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions:
  • Whether the physician uses technology to improve care and keeps up-to-date with the latest medical treatments available.
  • The convenience of the office location and office hours.
  • Whether the doctor is part of your health care plan.
  • Whether the doctor has privileges at the hospital of your choice.

Prior public complaints, disciplinary actions and malpractice claims. While all physicians can make mistakes, it’s important to know how many times a physician has been sued for negligent care rising to the level of a malpractice lawsuit, and whether the malpractice resulted in a catastrophic injury, such as death, paralysis, loss of limb, or brain damage. A history of prior investigated complaints and/or disciplinary action taken by the Medical Board can be a warning sign to choose another physician. You can start your investigation with the Florida Department of Health by verifying the license of the care provider (see the information below on “Investigate Prior Medical Board Problems”).