How to Choose a Doctor

Improve your medical care by selecting a physician familiar with your medical history and who is available when you need care. See more staying healthy pictures.

Most people never think about how to choose a doctor until they need one in a hurry. When a person is injured or suddenly becomes ill, finding a good doctor is a necessity, and there is often no time to spare.

If a person does not have a family doctor or internist, injury or sudden illness often means a visit to the emergency room or outpatient section of the nearest hospital, where staff doctors who may know little about the patient's personal medical history must treat that person symptomatically and, more often than not, on an urgent basis. This usually is not a good way to establish a lasting physician-patient relationship.

A better way to assure yourself of good medical care is to have a personal physician who is familiar with you and your family's medical history and who is available (or has associates who are available) when you need care. In this way, your health needs will be met by someone who knows you and whom you know.

The best time to choose a doctor, then, is when you don't need one. You should never wait until you have no choice about the doctor you see. How do you choose a doctor? In this article, we'll provide some basic guidelines for making an informed decision.