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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Good Doctor

Q. I was being treated successfully by a doctor who has since closed his practice. I have been dissatisfied with the others I have tried, mainly because it is like taking a shot in the dark. How should I go about getting referrals, and also finding doctors who are willing to take on new patients?

A. Finding a good doctor is often a frustrating experience, as you can testify. You could always log onto a doctor finding website such as www.Doctordirectory.com, which will provide you with some names in your region--but this is no substitute for talking to knowledgeable professionals. I recommend a few things to try, so that your data base is broader and more reliable.

First, you can contact your state medical licensing board. Many such boards have a consumer advisor who can help point you toward the right specialist. State medical societies may also be able to help; e.g., the Pennsylvania Medical Society, California Medical Society, etc. Getting a recommendation from another doctor is often a good bet. If you can't get one from the doctor you liked, you can try contacting the chief of medicine at a large hospital, medical school, or well-respected medical center near you. If he or she can't or won't be of help with referrals, try speaking with two or three of the nurses who work at the hospital. Ask them which doctor they would go to if they were in your position.

Other patients can sometimes be good referral sources, but you need to take what they say with a grain of salt--sometimes, a single bad experience with a doctor can lead to a permanently (and unjustifiably) bad impression. If all else fails, try looking at How to Find the Best Doctors, a series of books (state-by-state) by John J. Connolly. Good luck!

August 2001

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