What Should You Look For in Your Doctor?

How do you know whether your doctor is treating you properly?

1. A patient knows how he or she is feeling. A patient should never tolerate a physician who is dismissive of symptoms, but expect your doctor to explore what is wrong and explain.

2. Bedside manner and personal connection are not nearly as important in a doctor-patient relationship as ability and good judgement on the part of your doctor.

3. Look for a doctor who "thinks outside the box" rather than one who sticks to his own notions of your problem no matter what your complaints are.

4. A good doctor is also a good referral source for doctors and specialists who have other areas of expertise. A top physician knows when a problem is outside his or her area of expertise and when to refer.

5. Your physician shouldn't be defensive when it comes to dealing with a family member or friend who acts as your advocate. This person should be able to engage directly in discussion with your doctor when needed.

6. The worse you feel, the more your doctor should investigate and consider new ideas. Don't accept a doctor who is dismissive or considers you as a collection of organs or symptoms rather than as a whole person.

7. Don't let your physician intimidate you; look for one who encourages you to speak your mind and engages in an open exchange of information. Doctors are human beings, not gods, and they should be humble and solicitous, not arrogant or haughty.

Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of a new ebook: Swine Flu; the New Pandemic. Dr. Siegel is also the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic."Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com