How To Find A Good Doctor

How To Find A Good Doctor

By Ed Tasca


doctor-08A good friend might recommend one, of course, but once we make up our minds he or she is the golden caduceus, someone will come along and explain how they made the same choice and now can no longer blow their nose without reflexively gesturing obscenely in Italian.

The fact is, it’s almost impossible to decide which doctor can do the best job. Unless, for example, someone needing a gall bladder operation went and had the surgical procedure done in one place, had the gall bladder put back, and then went and had the operation done and undone in two or three other places, taking notes on each of the three occasions, and making sure no one cheated.

That said, I’d like to provide some simple guidelines on how to choose a health care provider.

First, and most importantly, find a physician with a caring personality. For example, take Dr. Kagas, my former doctor north of the border. Dr. Kagas was always available on a moment’s notice. It is the principal reason I remained his client for four years. The reason he was always available at a moment’s notice is that he had no other patients, and the reason he had no other patients is that he had the personality of a roof dog.

In stark contrast to Dr. Kagas is my current physician in Mexico, the pleasant and optimistic Dr. Ortega (not his real name, not even his real face), but a pleasant professional (like most here in Mexico).

“I have a headache,” is all I have to say and Dr. Ortega beams on me like a surgical lamp, asking what I’d been doing before the headache struck, what my diet and drinking habits were like, and if my wife had been getting enough sleep. His questions are so carefully targeted into my eyes, that I take extra thought and time to answer them. I also discover that I have such confidence in this happy, friendly face that no matter what this man prescribes for me – self-induced vomiting, prayer vigils, colonoscopy, even voodoo – I will oblige. (Well, maybe not the colonoscopy.)

The point is that a dedicated medical practitioner who is glad to see me and who appears ever reassuring is one of the best treatments medical science can offer a sick or even just distraught patient.

Second, make sure your doctor is up-to-date on his professional knowledge. One way to do this is to check the magazines he/she has in their waiting room. If the magazines are severely pawed over and feature Roy Orbison on the cover, you may be looking at a person decades behind in his diagnostic techniques. Do it politely, but ask him how many leeches he prescribes for irritable bowel syndrome. If he says, six, drop him. Everyone knows it’s now 14.

Third, do not engage any doctor whose office attire includes feathers.

Fourth, find out if your doctor/candidate has other patients. If you find him or her tiling his own sanitario when you visit, you may wish to look further, even if you are amazed at the quality of the tiling.

Fifth, A subset of the item above would be if your candidate was far too popular and brought groups of patients into the exam room with, “Okay, everybody with rheumatoid arthritis wait in this room and strip to the waist.”

Sixth, be suspicious of any doctor who hangs an outsized painting of a Katrina doll behind his desk.

Seventh, avoid any practitioner who received their accreditations through Craig’s List.

Eighth, investigate further any doctor who recites chapter and verse from Deuteronomy while treating you.

Finally, test the doctor’s attentiveness to detail by telling him you manage your blood sugar levels by dancing naked at midnight around your pencil-cactus tree. If he doesn’t schedule you for a visit with a mental health therapist, lose him and report him. But you might also want to introduce him to your single friends.



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