Doctors & Hospitals: Building a Team
Let’s discuss the team you need to build because YOU are in control of this process. Nobody touches you without your authority and you do not have to helplessly follow a treatment plan that you aren’t comfortable with. You get to choose at every step in this process, our mission is to arm you with the knowledge to choose well and choose the people who have the best chance of returning you to health.
Let’s Start With Doctors
- Doctors are not gods. They don’t know everything. Just like in any other profession, there are some really good ones and some that shouldn’t be allowed to work. You, as a patient, need to take responsibility for knowing when it is time to find another doctor. This is your health we are talking about here, the buck stops with you. Doctors make mistakes, just like everyone else. Just because it’s “what your doctor told you” doesn’t mean it’s right. You cannot blindly accept anything someone in a position of Authority tells you. Ask. Question. Think critically. Just because someone managed to pass the lowest bar of standards to get a certificate on the wall does not automatically mean they are any good – it just means they passed the basic licensing test.
- Every doctor is different, they each have their own techniques and philosophy about medicine and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get any two of them to agree on a course of treatment. There are as many personality types of doctors as there are patients, and not every one of those personality types works well with every patient. Some doctors are deeply conservative in their treatments and will only cut as a last resort. Others will have you on an operating table before you can blink. Match your personality type to a doctor who’s on the same wavelength.
- Your doctor is probably overworked. There are mounds of insurance paperwork to be done and doctors have to pack their waiting rooms to make up for the reduction in fees paid by insurers. Today’s doctors are under siege by lawyers and patients who sue at the drop of a hat. A recent article in the LA Times profiled a doctor who (like many these days) has become embittered with a system and patients who “think they have a god-given right to a good outcome”. When you wait 45 minutes for your appointment and your doctor barely spends 15 minutes with you, this is why. However, to play devil’s advocate, the medical establishment has also been atrociously lax in revoking licenses from incompetent physicians. The AMA and the various state licensing boards are as bad as the Catholic Church when it comes to protecting members of their constituency that are doing harm out in the world. Give a good doctor who is overworked a break. Report a bad one to your state licensing board.
How Do You Find a Good Doctor?
Your doctor is your partner in treatment, and you need to choose carefully, as you would any other kind of partner. You need to feel comfortable and be able to ask them anything, and they need to be willing to take the time to answer questions. Some doctors are not good communicators to start with and if your doctor seems rushed, it’s up to you to ask (politely) for a few more minutes of his/her undivided attention to answer your questions or explain procedures. A good doctor will stop and spend the time with you. If you get blown off or pushed out the door, that’s a good indicator of the level of care you are going to get.
In a perfect world, every doctor who treats Pilonidals would be reading the newest treatments and info hot off the press, but we don’t live in that world. It is entirely likely that you will find YOU know more than your doctor does about current treatments for Pilonidal Disease. This is especially true if your doctor is not a Colon & Rectal Surgeon. While we tend to recommend C/R surgeons, a General Surgeon can do just as good a job – providing they’ve stayed up on the current techniques and theories or are willing to learn. We have a large Library here of published works on Pilonidal, feel free to point your doctor in our direction.
We have a surgeon search section with places to search for doctors. Sometimes you have to interview several surgeons until you find one that makes you comfortable. Listen to your gut, if you don’t feel good about a doctor, don’t go back. Never go back to a doctor who makes you feel dirty, demeaned, or like a annoyance because you were asking questions. Good doctors are thrilled when their patients take an active part in their treatment.
It has been my experience (and that of others) that you can tell an awful lot about a doctor by his/her staff. A great doctor would never put up with a rude or incompetent staff. The doctor sets the tone at his/her practice and the staff follows where the doctor leads. Careful evaluation of both a doctor and their staff will tell you an enormous amount about what type of care you can expect.
For a final word on doctors, a joke submitted on the forums:
- Q. What do you call the guy who graduated last in his class from medical school?
- A. Doctor.
Not every hospital is a good hospital. Most surgeons have privileges at several hospitals or outpatient centers so you should have a couple to choose from. My advice is to ask your surgeon where he/she most prefers to operate*. I’ve had two surgeries (one for my Pilonidal and one on my hand) and the differences in surgical facilities was night and day. Thankfully, I had my first (pilo) surgery at a great facility. The hospital where I had my second surgery was disorganized, not as clean, staff not as helpful, etc.. I later asked the (hand) surgeon about it and his reply was “Yeah, I hate operating there”. Now, I chose the hospital since it was close to my home so I couldn’t complain but I learned a valuable lesson that all surgical facilities are NOT created equal. Your surgeon knows which are the cleanest and best run hospitals.
*Make sure your hospital choice is in your insurance network. See the Insurance page for more details.
For US patients, the HHS (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) has compiled listings and patient ratings of hospitals and is searchable by zip code.https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
In the UK there is a similar website from the Care Quality Commission.http://www.cqc.org.uk/
Look for a doctor near you from our worldwide list of Cleft Lift surgeons and recommendations on our forums.
Controlling your costs starts before surgery. These are the costs involved and where you can negotiate some of them.
For US based patients, some advice on working with insurers and the usual billing codes. Makes sure your surgery is covered.
This page last updated: January 4, 2019