Choosing the Wrong Doctor was a Painful Mistake

In March 2013, I came down with flu-like symptoms. I was weak, and my stomach was bloated and acidy. I thought it would pass, but instead it worsened. I called a colleague for a physician referral, but was directed to a different physician who, after an exam, said I needed a CAT scan costing several thousand dollars.

I asked, “No simple tests, no antibiotics, just go directly to the CAT scan?” I thoroughly researched symptoms, tests, and potential cures. An expensive CAT scan wasn’t mentioned. When I refused, he prescribed an antacid, but for only half the recommended dose. After I reported no improvement, the doctor once again told me I needed a CAT scan. Instead, I gave up on the physician at Penn Medicine and obtained antibiotics as suggested by the latest research—which worked.

The physician, one of hundreds at Penn Medicine, failed to properly diagnose my condition and caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering. As patient care is more and more driven by profit instead of medical science, finding a good, trustworthy doctor becomes more like winning the lottery. Penn Medicine provides the facilities and a certain reputation—but in the end, it is individual doctors who provide the care.

Does that mean all physicians at branded health centers are bad? Of course not. Penn Medicine and others have many fine clinicians and great facilities. But there are no guarantees. I was lucky. I understood what was going on. But unsuspecting patients are frequently talked into procedures they don’t need, or denied insurance benefits they’re entitled to.

The same things are happening in dentistry. Business minded people are bringing wholesale changes to dental care that aim for profit above all. Dental patients are having a harder time finding trustworthy dentists, while insurance companies invent new ways to deny claims. Both increase profits at the expense of patient care.

I was able to draw my own conclusions and obtain a more effective, much less expensive treatment. However, most people don’t have a background in dentistry. If you’re not a dental professional, you’ll need help to know where to look.

This website is full of information about what to look for—and what to look out for. Once you’ve done some reading, you can search for a dentist in your area who has agreed to our Code of Ethics. One of our most important tenets is that the dentists in our network won’t try to up-sell you. There will be no unnecessary, expensive procedures. A doctor living by the Opt-In Code of Ethics will only recommend services that will actually help you.

Every doctor-patient relationship should be based on mutual trust. Don’t be fooled by big brands and shiny buildings. They provide the facilities, but they don’t provide care. How you are actually cared for is the job of your doctor. Search the internet, talk to friends and relatives, and don’t be shuffled to someone you don’t know. And read our Code of Ethics before selecting a dentist.

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