Going to the doctor....how do you decide who to see?

My situation: I’ve been having trouble with my back for the past few months, which I’ve put off seeing a doctor about because it’s not debilitating and I didn’t feel like jumping through the appointment/waiting hoops. Now that I’ve decided that it has become chronic enough that I should see someone, I find out that my regular family doctor is leaving the practice and I have no one to see.

My question: I know that I’m going to have to pick another GP at some point, but considering that my current problem is related to my back, I’m wondering if it would be better right now for me to skip establishing a new GP for this particular complaint and go directly to an Orthopedist. My insurance is such that I don’t need a referral from my GP to see a specialist, so I’m able to do this without worry about the financial implications.

My reservations: I’ve made appointments to see specialists in the past without referrals from my GP, and my experience so far is that when I get there, I’m given a semi-snotty attitude of “Why are you here if you haven’t seen your GP first?” It seems as if specialists don’t really want to see you unless you’ve seen your GP first, even if all that your GP does is say “Hmmm…I don’t know, I’ll refer you to the specialist.”

So…what do y’all think? Why am I getting this attitude from the specialists I’ve seen? Is this attitude relatively common, or have I just had bad luck? Should I establish a relationship with a new GP and let him decide if I should see the Orthopedist, or should I just skip the GP step (considering that I know the problem is with my back) and give the Orthopedist a try?

very interested in the responses to come, as I’m am considering seeing a quack, I mean doctor soon myself. come on, teeming millions, post!

**You **know the problem is with your back, but the specialist doesn’t know that you know and can’t have people self-diagnosing and coming in wasting their time.

I saw a GP about my back recently and she treated me without even sending me to a specialist (I had already been to an orthopedist 2 years ago when I bulged a disc), just gave me a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and it worked pretty well.

Unless you’re having an acute incident, a GP can probably treat your chronic back pain without sending you to a specialist. Then if their treatment doesn’t work, they can always refer you for more aggressive treatments.

If you really want to see an orthopedist and skip the GP, you can always call around to the offices, explain your situation, and see what their reception is like to your not having a referral.

Oh Jadis, if I had that freedom with my health plan…I absolutely HAVE to see my GP before going to ANY specialist, and 9 times out of 10, she’s reluctant to do so unless I demand it. And it’s always the same specialists…:roll eyes:

If I were in your shoes, I’d ask around first before calling a specialist for an appointment. Barring that, I’d select someone who’s fairly close and has affiliation with the nearest excellent hospital.

I’m leaving my GP at the end of this month and transferring to a practice which has ties to the spinal center at New England Baptist Hospital. I’ll let you know how it turns out! :wink: