How Good Is Your Doctor?

Use our checklists to see if your health is in the best hands.

Travis Rathbone
You know your primary care doc should test your cholesterol and vitals; you're aware your gyno should do a breast exam and ask about your cycle, and you realize your dentist should clean and examine your teeth. But there are other things an internist, a gynecologist or a dentist does (or doesn't do) that can set her apart as a truly great caregiver. Bookmark this page and reread it before your next visit.

A great primary care doc should...

Chat before you change.

If you're not wearing that awkward gown, you'll likely feel more comfortable letting your physician know what your concerns are. "Discussing things with you while you're clothed shows that the doctor is taking the time to really listen," says Glen Stream, MD, board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Be up on the latest testing recommendations.

For instance, last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadened its recommendation for hepatitis C testing to everyone born from 1945 to 1965, since deaths from liver disease and liver cancer caused by hepatitis C are on the rise. That age group has the highest rates of infection, and most people who have hepatitis C don't even know it.

Stick you with a shot or three.

In addition to a flu shot, if you never got a Tdap vaccine—which has been in use since 2005 and protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)—then your doc should be on you to get one (along with any other vaccines you might need).

Have good follow-through.

As you're wrapping up, your doctor should ask if there's anything else you want to discuss, Dr. Stream says. She should also contact you with the results of any tests.

Say bye till 2015 or later.

"There's no evidence that going for yearly checkups is any better than less frequent visits," Dr. Stream says. If you're between 30 and 50 and have no medical problems or risks, you may be able to wait as long as three years between visits—two if you're over 50.

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Nancy Rones
Last Updated: September 06, 2013

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