How to Select Your Physician

Patients frequently ask for the best way to choose a doctor. There is no one simple answer. If you participate in a managed care plan, your care is determined by your plan. If you already have a primary care doctor or any other doctor in whom you have confidence, they will be happy to furnish you with the name of a specialist or consultant should you desire to see one.

Doctors listed are members of the El Paso County Medical Society. Prior to receiving membership in this Society each physician's medical training, licensure, board certification(s) and references by those under whom they have trained are verified and reviewed.

For your convenience, all doctors in a practice group are listed, whether they are a member or not. If the physician is not a member of the medical society, this will be noted. The credentials of physicians who are not members of the society have not been verified and reviewed through the society’s Credentials Committee.

To practice medicine in our state a physician must have graduated from an accredited medical school, completed an internship and passed a prescribed examination. He/she may designate themselves as a specialist solely on the basis of an interest in a specific area of medicine rather than additional training in that specialty. A physician who has completed a residency has usually spent one or more additional years in a training program over and above an internship.

Each specialty has a Board which is responsible for establishing criteria for certification in that specialty. Such criteria includes a specified number of years in an approved residency training program, a specified number of years in practice of that specialty and/or passing a comprehensive examination given by the Board in that specialty. A physician meeting all of these requirements is then deemed Board Certified. The El Paso County Medical Society verifies certifications by specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Osteopathic Association.

Patients or prospective patients are encouraged to ask their physician any questions they may have about fees or medical costs. Our Society strives for the ultimate in quality medical care. We do not believe that the quality of care offered by two physicians can be compared simply by comparing fees. It is equally important to determine the amount of time the physician and the staff will spend for your healthcare needs. Almost all physicians will openly discuss specific fees for service at the time of the initial visit to the doctor's office. Most offices, if asked, will likewise give approximate fees for medical services by telephone prior to seeing you in the office.

Information you should have about your physician:

The Colorado Medical Association and The El Paso County Medical Society supports every patient's freedom of choice in health care, including the choice of a physician. To make the best choice, you should have the answers to the following questions, and you should feel fully informed and comfortable with the explanations you receive. You should also feel free to request any other information relevant to your health care and treatment.

Questions to ask your physician:
  1. Education: Where did you attend medical school? When did you graduate? What kind of graduate medical education, including residencies and fellowships, did you complete? What specialties are you eligible for or Board-certified in? What faculty appointments do you hold? What other medical education have you completed?
     
  2. Participation in Health Plans:  Do you participate in Medicaid? Medicare? Champus? PPOS? HMOs? Which ones? Do you accept my insurance coverage? Who files my claims?
     
  3. Practice Information:  What is your primary area of practice? How long have you been in practice? Where is your office located? What medical groups are you affiliated with? Are you accepting new patients? What languages are spoken in your office? Where do you have hospital staff privileges?
     
  4. Disciplinary Actions:  Have you been subject to discipline by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners or professional boards from other states in the past five years? If your physician has been subjected to discipline, ask for a full explanation of the circumstances.
     
  5. Criminal Convictions: Have you been convicted of any felonies or serious misdemeanors? If your physician has been convicted of such crimes, ask for a full explanation of the circumstances.
     
  6. Professional Liability Judgments and Settlements:  Have you been subject to professional liability judgments or settlements that led to disciplinary actions by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners? If your physician has been subject to such judgments or settlements, you should compare his or her record against physicians in similar specialties and practice, with similar years of experience. You should also be aware that this information does not necessarily reflect on the quality of care your physician provides. Physicians in certain high-risk specialties, such as obstetrics and neurosurgery, experience higher rates of lawsuits than specialists in other areas.

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