Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

When Looking for a Doctor, Ask a Nurse

by heather

 Today’s post is about something that I wish that I had learned much earlier than I did. When you need a good doctor for something, the best recommendation you can get is from a nurse. Even if you don’t know a nurse who works with the kind of physician you’re looking for, you can still call the hospital and ask for recommendations. The best time to do this is on a Sunday afternoon when things are generally slower and nurses have more time to answer all of your questions. The nurses generally know who has good or bad track records. They work with the doctors on a regular basis and can pick out the ones who know their stuff. Now if you ask them they’re probably not going to say “Oh, I definitely wouldn’t see Dr. A because he is terrible about washing his hands.” or “Dr. B is flaming moron” or “Dr. C is in danger of losing his license”, but if there is stuff going on, they’ll know. Trust me. They can point you towards the someone who will take good care of you.

 Sometimes which doctor you see doesn’t really make a big difference, but there are many times that having a good doctor makes a big difference in how much time and money are spent on your or your child’s health, not to mention what a difference it can make on your entire life. Any time spent researching the matter will not be wasted. I have a few stories to further illustrate my point.

 When I had my first baby (and was a very brand new nurse) someone who I respected recommended that I see a particular group of certified nurse midwives. All was well until I got to the delivery, which was a disaster. The most telling moment was after she broke my water and then said “I don’t know what to do now.” (I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.) After that experience I started taking a poll of all of the nurses that I worked with (at the time I worked on multiple units). At least 75% went to one particular OB/GYN. So with my second child that’s who I went to. She was WONDERFUL! I really don’t think I can say enough good things about her. Not just because of the way she treated me as a patient, but because of what a wonderful care provider she was to the patients that I observed her with.

 With my first child I wasn’t sure who to pick as a pediatrician, so one was assigned to me. He seemed nice enough so I kept going to him. However, the more that I got to work with him the less impressed I was. When my second child was very tiny, my friends told me a sad story of patient from our unit. This toddler was complaining of severe neck and back pain and running fevers. This doctor ordered IV fluids and Tylenol (which are great), but refused when every nurse who took care of this patient, begged for a lumbar puncture and antibiotics. After four days of the patient not improving, a scan was ordered. It then became apparent that the patient had started with spinal meningitis and it had spread to the brain. That poor child will be mentally delayed for the rest of his life, and this was preventable. Ug, it still makes me sick/sad/angry to think about it. Needless to say, I did not take my children back to him.

 If you can’t find a nurse to give you recommendations, here are qualities that you should look for:

  1. Your doctor should really listen to what you have to say
  2. Your doctor should be willing to admit when he or she doesn’t know something and needs to consult someone else.
  3. Your doctor should never treat you like you are stupid because you don’t understand medical jargon.
  4. Your doctor should never seem to be “put out” to take care of you or answer your questions, that why they get paid.
  5. Your doctor should keep you updated.

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