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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Finding a diabetes specialist   (December 15, 2006)

Over the years, I’ve had a number of folks ask me how to find a diabetes specialist. Here’s a list of some ideas to consider.

• Discuss your concern with your present physician. He/she can help out, as mentioned below, and will personally know someone who would be very appropriate for you.

• Search for “Recognized Physicians” at the American Diabetes Association and NCQA’s web site to find a physician who has met the criteria of their Diabetes Physician Recognition Program.

• Call (800) TEAMUP4, a service of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. They have listings of healthcare professionals who are diabetes educators, which includes some physicians, as well as diabetes nurses and other health professionals who can help you find an appropriate diabetes doctor.

• You can borrow a copy of several Membership Directories, and see who's spent their money to pay their dues! Usually, you can find out lots of other information about them, also. Examples of organizations with directories that may be available from your present physician or local hospital’s library, or on-line, include:

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (most of the endocrinologists who
belong to this organization are in clinical practice).

American Association of Diabetes Educators (members are interested in diabetes education; many are nurses or dietitians but some are physicians);

American Diabetes Association (members are interested in diabetes but many are in research or teaching; some are physicians in clinical practice);

Endocrine Society (same comments as those about the ADA).
These directories fortunately have entries allowing you to figure out which physicians are more interested in seeing patients, as compared to those who are doing "rat research."

• Find out which hospitals have diabetes education programs that are "Recognized”by the American Diabetes Association, and find out which doctors are associated with these programs.

• Call the diabetes nurse educators at two or three hospitals (especially those Recognized by the ADA) that are in your neighborhood. Ask the diabetes nurses who they'd trust.

• Call the local office of the American Diabetes Association, and ask if they maintain a referral list (look in the Yellow Pages under Diabetes Organizations).

• Call the Referral Service at any hospital (look in the Yellow Pages under Physician Referral Services). Be VERY specific about the kind of physician you want: some Referral Services will give you a generalist who dabbles in diabetes, which may not be what you want! Be sure to call several Referral Services, since they will ONLY give you names of physicians who are on the staff of their hospital.

• Your insurance plan may have listings of physicians who are specialists in diabetes. The same comment applies as I made about hospital referral services: some insurance companies will list a generalist who dabbles in diabetes, which may not be what you want!

• Ask other people who have diabetes, especially if you and they are part of a support group.

If you find that the same name recurs using several of these methods, you've probably got a winner! But, no matter what, you'll have to try the doctor out. So, set a "get-acquainted" appointment to meet with the doctor. When setting up the appointment, ask the staff to alert the physician that you'll want to go over your diabetes treatment program and review your past records during the first visit. Bring along your Traveling Medical Record (photocopies of your recent medical records) to review with your new doctor, including:
• Letters from one physician to another, or to you.
• Recent lab results.
• Recent hospital Discharge Summaries, Consultations, and other typed hospital reports.
• Anything else in your chart that your previous endocrinologist and his staff want to hand you.
During this first visit, be prepared to spend extra time (and to pay extra) for the chance to find out if the new doctor is "right" for you.
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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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