Top Docs 2008 Part V: Advice from Top M.D.s

On choosing a doctor or hospital

• Don’t sprinkle your care around. Stick to no more than one local hospital for routine problems, plus one referral hospital. A familiar environment, with familiar physicians and surgeons looking after you, will result in better care. —Dr. Glenn LaMuragalia, vascular surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

• I often hear that a patient may prefer a certain physician because of his or her "bedside manner." While that is obviously important, clinical excellence should always be the number-one priority. (The two traits, of course, should never be mutually exclusive.) —Dr. M. Michael Wolfe, gastroenterology, Boston Medical Center

• Research your doctor’s curriculum vitae: schools, residency, hospitals. If the doctor is good, he or she went to good places. Trust the admissions committees of those institutions to have selected the top people. —Dr. G. Gregory Gallico, plastic surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

• If you are having a hard time getting a timely appointment with a specific doctor, don’t give up. Most doctors you would want to see are going to be busy! We often don’t know how far out we are booking appointments—usually the office staff is making scheduling decisions. When we get in the loop, we can almost always overbook someone in. Rattle the cages a little (not too much, though). Ask your primary care doctor to call or use a connection if you have one. I am always amazed by how many people know my sister-in-laws, or have kids in school with mine, or went to the same college as me, etc.! —Dr. Mininder Kocher, orthopedic surgery, Children’s Hospital Boston