Many people are comfortable with the doctors they regularly see for their chronic medical conditions and do not question their advice and recommendations regarding their medical care. Although understandable, this mind-set may not be in their best interest when being referred to medical specalists by their regular doctors, especially if they do not fully understand their medical condition, why their doctors recommended the specific medical specialists they did, and especially if there were other alternatives to the recommended treatment that they would have chosen if only they had asked the appropriate questions of their regular doctors (never forget that you, and not your doctors, will have to live with the consequences of your medical treatment decisions that may have not been what you would have chosen based on your own circumstances that your doctors may not be fully aware of or fully explored with you before referring you to a specific medical specialist).
Your reliance on your regular doctors’ medical decision-making regarding your routune medical care may be understandable, but less so with regard to the medical specialists that your regular doctors may refer you to. Many times primary and family physicians refer their patients to particular specialists without providing their patients the names, backgrounds, and experiences of other medical specialists who may be more appropriate for them, often because their doctors routinely refer all of their patients to these particular specialists.
While it may perfectly reasonable for primary care physicians and family medicine physicians to refer their patients to particular medical specialists they know, would you be comfortable to know that the reason for the referral to the specific medical specialist was due to the doctors being personal friends, their children attending the same private schools, they socialize outside the office, they attended the same medical school, they were roommates in college, their offices are in the same building, or they increase their incomes by agreeing to routinely refer patients to each other? Shouldn’t the decision regarding who may provide you the best care under your particular circumstances be the number one reason, if not the sole reason, to choose which medical specialist to treat your medical condition?
Do you ever ask your primary care physician or your family medicine physician why he/she is referring you to a specific specialist, why that specialist is the best health care provider to treat your medical condition, the experience the specialist has with regard to meeting your treatment requirements, or the outcomes experienced by similarly situated patients treated by the specialist in the past?
Your mantra with regard to your health care should be “it is my health and I must make medical decisions based on what’s best for me.” With regard to major medical decisions affecting your quality of life, or life itself, you owe it to yourself, and your loved ones, to ask questions that are important to you, to insist on answers that you understand and accept, and to demand honesty and objectiveness from your primary care and family medicine physicians in referring you to medical specialists.
If you fear that your primary care physician or family medicine physician may become angry or offended if you ask questions and insist on answers you can understand regarding your medical care, perhaps you should consider seeking another primary care or family medicine physician whose sole focus is on providing you the best available medical care, and when appropriate, finding you the best medical specialists to treat your medical conditions and unique circumstances.
If you or a loved one were injured due to medical negligence in the United States, you should find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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