I would like to share with you some general tips for finding/researching doctors which I have accumulated in the last two years based on my experiences with my husband’s illness. (Note that resources vary from state to state.)
*Ama-assn.org — basic info about doctors
*Castle Connolly’s “America’s Best Doctors for Cancer”. Second edition came out recently. The best thing since sliced bread. Lists 2,000 docs in 16 sub-specialties. Go to castleconnolly.com or you can find it in the library.
* Also check out “America’s Top Doctors” (castleconnolly.com, local editions avail. for NY and Chicago.)
* There is also checkbook.org, website of Consumer’s Union, a nonprofit group which publishes books of recommended doctors and hospitals.
** Sometimes local newspapers will publish doctor reviews. (Here, NY Mag. does a yearly feature on this. Search “best doctors” and your area). I have found this method to be extremely helpful. I just used it to find docs in Columbus, OH and Kansas City.
* Try to find a doctor who is associated with a good teaching
* Check local PC advocacy orgs. You might want to ask if they know any docs.
* Check your state’s Health Department (state.gov), specifically its division of Professional Licensing, to find out about the doctor’s status, malpractice history, etc. Often the listing will offer you a doctor profile (see below).
* State Physician Profile. Provides extensive info about a particular doctor. This is mandated by law in certain states, such as NY.
** Hospital — critical decision. Don’t just go to the nearest one.
Be wary of small community hospitals. *Look at the US News
(usnews.com) or other hospital rankings. Try to go to a center of
excellence for Urology (or if you have PC, cancer) even if it means travelling somewhere. You can go to usnews.com and look up the details. Don’t rely on your general impression of a hospital. One may be good for one thing and bad for another. Example: MSK and NY Presb are both first-rate hospitals in NYC. However, MSK is rated #1 in the country for the treatment of cancer; NY Presb is #24.
** Convenience should not be too high on your list of priorities. Your goal is getting the best treatment for the illness you have.
** With PC: Don’t fixate on any single option such as robotic surgery (which seems to be robotically prescribed for everybody, regardless of the situation). Do not rule out open surgery or any other treatment before you have found out more about it. Research the pros and cons carefully.
*You might want to consult a medical oncologist for a different viewpoint (e.g., radiation, hormone therapy). Urologists
mostly recommend surgery
** Go see the best general-purpose urologist in your area, somebody who has absolutely no use for you. By that I mean he/she doesn’t need your money, to practice on you, to accumulate another statistic or to add another surgery to the list. A person with many years of experience and an established reputation. Such a doctor is more likely to give you the truth. If you can, go see several. If you have to pay out-of-pocket it’s worth it if you can afford it.
* Don’t just go to the people your doctor refers you to. They are probably his golfing buddies.
* Go to prostate-help.org and read the chapter for the “Newly
Diagnosed.” Pay special attn to the part about selecting docs. It’s like boot camp, but it’s worth it.
* For general info about a doctor you can do a basic google search. Personal details can make a difference. Once I chose a gyn because he was listed online as giving a lot of money to a particular charity (was a tie-breaker).
*For info about a doctor’s scholarly output, try googlescholar.com.
* Many people here admire Dr. Stephen Strum for his long-time
dedication to the PC community, even though some of his ideas are not mainstream. I would go to pcri.org and have a look at Dr. Strum’s list of recommended doctors.
* Read Scardino’s “Prostate Book”. Also Strum’s “Primer on Prostate Cancer”, the most detailed book ever written about this subject (but keep in mind the caveat above). Both are available on Amazon.
* For excellent, objective info on PC, go to endotext.org. This site has comprehensive info for practicing doctors but it is also
understandable to laypeople. Has won awards for quality of content and clarity.
*Ask for recommendations from people in online forums such as this (I belong to 10 PC ones) and from people you know.
*If you have a general practitioner you trust absolutely, ask him or her for some names.
*For patient referrals, search the archives of PC groups for accumulated wisdom.