Thursday, May 25, 2006
Finding the right doctor can be complicated matter

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

About eight years ago, I wrote an article on selecting a physician. We have had many new patients move to the area since then. We have also had many new physicians move to the area since then. It seems appropriate to publish that article again. Selecting a physician is a difficult task. We trust our physician to keep us from getting sick. When we are sick, we want to get better quickly. There are several factors involved in our selection. The biggest factor is geography. Convenience is an important part of seeking medical care. Eighty-five percent of the population travels to the closest physician. Most of them stay within 10 miles of home. Many of us do not recognize the fact that location is more important than anything else in choosing a physician. A second important factor is available appointments. If a physician is so busy that you cannot get an appointment, it does not help you a lot. Some physicians have closed practices. They are not taking new patients. Others have full appointment books. You might have to wait a few days to be seen when you are ill. For most minor illnesses this is not a problem from a medical standpoint. However, some people do not want to wait when they are ill. They will choose a physician who will be able to see them quickly. A third factor is how comfortable the patient feels with the physician's manner. Every physician has a different personality. We react to personalities based upon our own personality. Actually 10 to 20 percent of the population will be unhappy with a physician's personality. That is a different 10 to 20 percent for each physician. Therefore, all of us can find physicians with whom we feel comfortable. Another portion of feeling comfortable is how carefully the physician explains what is wrong and its treatment. This is also true for the explanation about medications and their side effects. People have different expectations for these things. They will affect how comfortable an individual feels with a physician. Waiting time in the office is a fourth factor. Each physician has a different pace. Some have unexpected interruptions from the hospital and other patients. Therefore, waiting time in the office frequently varies by physician. Patients usually decide what wait they find acceptable based upon the other items above. The amount of time each individual decides is acceptable varies. Some people have no trouble waiting 30 minutes. Others find a five-minute wait unacceptable. The fifth factor is related to what friends and neighbors say about the physician. Some physicians are more popular than others. We need to remember that much of this is based upon how comfortable those people feel with a physician. In some instances we may not feel the same way about the physician when we see him/her. The physician's qualifications should be a factor in our decision. However, we are not trained to look at these things. Therefore, they are frequently not strongly related to our decision. For example, we assume that physicians all have licenses to practice medicine. That is a good assumption. Physicians require a business license to practice medicine. Some people will want to know if the physician is board certified. Board certification did not really become a common thing until the late 1970s. Many physicians who went into practice before that are not board certified. Most of those physicians are now approaching retirement age. However, they have years of experience in practice to offset the fact that they elected to not become board certified. Board certification does tell you two things about physicians. The first is that they completed a training program in the specialty in which they are certified. The second is that they passed an exam to show that they had attained a certain level of knowledge from that program. Selecting a physician is a complicated decision. It is one of the most personal decisions that we make.

Program at G'wood Library will focus on breast cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Trends Progress Report: 2005 Update, breast cancer is on the rise. U.S. Rep. Mike Castle issued a statement on Jan. 27, 2004, stating that Delaware ranked third in the nation for breast cancer mortality rates. Among the most powerful weapons against breast cancer are knowing the risk factors and early detection. For those diagnosed with breast cancer, knowledge about how to survive it is essential. A seminar on breast cancer will be held Thursday, June 1, between 4 and 7 p.m. at the Greenwood Public Library. The multi-media, breast health presentation will run continuously between 4 and 7 p.m. A breast health consultant from the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition will be available to provide information and answer questions. Emphasis will be on the risk factors of breast cancer, early detection, how to survive breast cancer and where to seek more information. Information will also be available concerning the free mammograms that will be available at Greenwood Public Library on June 14. This program is open to the public at no charge. The library is located on the corner of Market and Mill streets. For information call 349-5309.

NMH to offer bereavement support
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is offering an eight-week bereavement support group beginning June 7. The group will meet every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center. Representatives from Delaware Hospice will provide grief education and support to individuals and families as they cope with the emotional, social and financial stresses associated with life-limiting illness and the loss of a loved one. To pre-register for this free program contact Terri Clifton at 629-6611, ext. 2577.