8 Tips for Choosing a Neurologist

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    A Personal Decision
    If you’ve decided that it’s time to see a neurologist, you have another important decision to make—choosing the best neurologist that is right for you or a family member. You will depend on your neurologist’s knowledge and expertise to diagnose neurological disease and reduce neurological disability. How do you find the best neurologist who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.

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    1. Get Referrals
    Start by reviewing the referral list that your primary care doctor provided. You can add to this list by asking family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each neurologist’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.

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    2. Research the Neurologist’s Credentials
    Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are looking for a neurologist. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in neurology. Also confirm that the neurologist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the neurologist’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.

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    3. Consider the Neurologist’s Experience
    When you’re facing potentially serious neurological issues, experience matters. The more experience a neurologist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific neurological condition the neurologist has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.

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    4. Consider Gender
    It’s important to feel comfortable with your neurologist’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to certain types of neurological care, your own gender is also an important consideration. Neurologists are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the neurologist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

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    5. Research Hospital Quality
    Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital. For this reason, consider the quality of care at the hospital where the neurologist can treat patients. Hospital quality matters to you because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Additionally, think about whether the hospital’s location is important to you. Should you need to go the hospital for tests or treatment, you want the location to encourage, rather than discourage timely care.

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    6. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose a neurologist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. Neurologic diseases are complex and demand accurate and trustful conversations between the neurologist and patient. Treatment decisions often hinge more on your discussions than sophisticated scans. When you first meet the neurologist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Find a neurologist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.

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    7. Read Patient Reviews
    Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people's experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.

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    8. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose a neurologist who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select a neurologist from your plan.

8 Tips for Choosing a Neurologist

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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