Tips for Finding a Good Doctor/Provider
Ask around: Get referrals from other people who use drugs, friends, family, co-workers, counselors, and people you trust. Find out what people like best about their doctor. Ask about strategies they’ve used to get good health care.
Shop around: Visit a couple of doctors. It might feel like a hassle at first, but in the long run, it is worth it. Doctors at SSPs, methadone programs, and outpatient programs have experience working with people who use drugs. If you have a good experience at an ER, on a medical van or at an SEP, ask the doctors or staff there for a referral to a primary care doctor. If you are not comfortable with a doctor, try finding someone new.
Remember, when you find a good primary care doctor or family physician, it will mean:
- More time to build trust with the doctor.
- This may make it easier to talk about drug use and sensitive issues.
- Fewer visits to the ER.
- Less waiting for medical appointments.
- You may not have to give a detailed medical history at every visit.
Consider location: How easy is it to get there? Are you comfortable going to a doctor in your neighborhood? You may be able to get many services in one location. Ask your provider if you can get transportation costs to and from your visit.
Consider hours that the doctor is available or when the clinic is open: Do the hours fit your schedule? Hospitals and hospital-based clinics may have more flexible hours, including evenings. Make sure the doctor and her/his staff speak your primary language—communication is important!
Consider how you feel about the entire staff at the office or clinic you go to—they are all part of your health care. You have a right to stand up for yourself and change doctors if you want to. Your medical records should not be shared without your consent (unless it’s an emergency).
Scheduling appointments: Schedule visits for a time when you are most likely to make it. Find out if you need to make an appointment or if the clinic has drop-in hours. If you ask for the first appointment of the day or the first appointment after lunch, you might have less waiting before you see the doctor.