Merck Manual

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Is This Doctor the Right One?

Is This Doctor the Right One?

Helpful questions to ask a doctor include the following:

  • Does the doctor participate in my health insurance plan?

  • What are the doctor’s normal office hours?

  • What is the usual wait to obtain a routine visit? An urgent visit?

  • Does the doctor respond to phone calls or e-mail (during office hours and after office hours)? If so, how quickly does the doctor respond?

  • Does the doctor have an online portal for patient communications (such as requests for prescription renewal and seeing test results) and scheduling?

  • Is the doctor's electronic record system integrated with hospitals and other doctors to which I might be referred?

  • Will the doctor take care of me if I need to be hospitalized, or will I be referred to another doctor? At what hospitals is the doctor on staff?

  • Is the doctor board-certified?

  • Is the doctor’s office easy to get in and out of?

  • Does the doctor keep office appointments on time?

  • Who takes care of the doctor’s patients when the office is closed (at night or on weekends) or when the doctor is away? When care is provided by another practitioner, does that practitioner know the patients or have access to the patients’ medical records?

  • Who else is routinely involved in taking care of the doctor’s patients? For example, to what extent will my care be provided by nurses, nurse practitioners, or physician’s assistants?

  • How are test results (normal and abnormal) communicated, and who (doctor or patient) initiates the communication?

Helpful questions to ask the doctor’s patients include the following:

  • Does the doctor take time to listen to concerns?

  • Does the doctor adequately explain a diagnosis?

  • Do you trust the doctor’s opinion?

  • Before prescribing a medication, does the doctor discuss its benefits and risks?

  • Before prescribing a medication, does the doctor discuss alternatives?