Checking on and Selecting your Doctor and Hospital Page
from The Cure Our Children Foundation

Lainie, Alon, Lilah and Barry Sugarman Alon Sugarman During Chemotherapy

 

In Honor of Alon Sugarman,
12 Years Old, Alive and Well

This site maintained by Barry Sugarman, B.S.ENGR.
Father of Alon Sugarman, Diagnosed March 6, 1998
with Ewing's Sarcoma of the Distal Femur.
mailto:barry@cureourchildren.org
 
 **This guide has been written for educational purposes only, it cannot be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. If you have or suspect that you or your child may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor.  Additionally, this site is not intended to provide legal advice or legal opinions.  If you need legal advice or opinions, please consult your attorney.** 

Original Article:


 Selecting your Doctor or Hospital and Hospital: Procedures to Follow and Questions to Ask.

by Barry Sugarman, B.S.ENGR., President, and Dr. Lainie Sugarman, Vice President
The Cure Our Children Foundation

    Using the right doctor and the right hospital to treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases is critical.  Every doctor is not the same, and there are substantial differences in knowledge, bedside manner, customary practices, and treatment philosophy.  While it is important to get information about the doctor and the hospital, and to gain a certain comfort level, remember that time is not on your side.  Questions and checks should be performed immediately, and treatment commenced right away once a confirmed diagnosis has been established.  Although most pediatric hematologist-oncologists treat all cancers and leukemia, each doctor has his or her own specialty.  That is, there are one or two diseases that they specialize in, and know much more about than the other diseases.  It's best if you can locate a doctor that specializes in your child's particular disease, and who has treated a number of children with that disease over a long period of time.

    There are many questions to ask your doctor before you agree to treatment.  Some of these are:

    How many patients have you treated with this particular disease successfully?
   
    If the treatment that you choose is unsuccessful, what resources will you utilize
    to assist you?

   Is there a separate pediatric ward at the hospital, and are pediatric nurses available?

   What social services are available for you and your child during treatment?

   Are school teachers available to the child when there are stays in the hospital for treatments?

   Is there a playroom and a Child Life Specialist available, and what hours are they available?

   Is there an adequate support staff of related doctors such as pediatric surgeons, radiation
    oncologists, neurologists, radiologists and others?  Do these professionals have direct
    experience in pediatrics?

   Are the rooms private or shared?  What are the accommodations for parents staying in the
    child's room?

    What clinical trials are available at your facility?
   
    How will you respond if I disagree with one of your treatment choices?
   
    Who covers you when you are not available?
  
    Are you available by pager?
  
    How much time do you dedicate during appointments?
   
    Do you accept my insurance plan?
   
    Do you accept credit cards or extended payment terms for balances due?
   
    Ask for your own copy of a resume or curriculum vitae.

    There are many possible specialists involved in the treatment of children with cancer such as pediatricians, pediatric hematologist-oncologists, orthopedic oncologists, pediatric orthopedists, general surgeons and others.  Knowing the background and training of each can help you select the facility and person that is best for your situation.  It is extremely important that a facility be chosen that has a separate pediatric ward, and separate personnel that are trained in pediatrics.  Treating children is much different than treating adults, and requires specialized training.  Additionally, there are a number of practical needs of parents such as the need to stay overnight in the room, so the extent to which a facility is willing to accommodate this, and even make it easy is very important.  Aside from break periods, my wife and I were always on duty with our son Alon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including sleeping and eating in the room with Alon and taking care of all of his needs.

   I believe that it is especially important to seek and receive a second opinion on the pathology reports from a respected pathologist at a recognized facility that regularly treats cancer.  I can't stress enough that all of the treatment decisions that are being offered emanate from the diagnosis given by a pathologist when looking at slides of blood or tumor.  It is advisable to request that an extra set of slides be prepared prior to the biopsy procedure.  Diagnosis by slides is no easy task, and a second set of slides should always be viewed and a second opinion given.  In addition to this, it is also common practice to perform a second opinion by a pediatric oncologist in life-threatening illness.  The second opinion should confirm or refute the diagnosis,
and the proposed treatment methods.

    Remember, you are trusting this person with your life or the life of your child.  Seek only those doctors and other health care professionals that are willing to work with you in a trusting, caring, respectful, professional manner.  It is a perfectly acceptable practice to interview two or more doctors before deciding which one that you wish to choose; however, this process should be done quickly, as time is always of the essence when treating cancer.

   Treatment methods always exist at every stage of disease including relapse.  It is a good idea to discuss these numerous methods with your doctor to gauge their opinions.  For instance, with chemotherapy, there are many choices such as the full traditional protocol, an abbreviated protocol, addition of immune boosting drugs, and clinical trials.  For radiation, there is traditional radiation, I.M.R.T., sterotactic, proton, and neutron.  For surgery, there is endoprosthesis, rotationplasty, allograft, and amputation.  These are only some of the options, other options exist, and new options are being developed every day.  Many treatment options are only available at particular facilities.  Whether or not your doctor is open to listening to your suggestions and discussion about treatment methods available at their own facilities and at other facilities is an important consideration.

   Myself and others from our foundation are available to assist you as an advocate if you need additional information, referral, or potential treatment alternatives.  Our contact information is at the bottom of this page.

...Barry and Lainie Sugarman

 

And, here are some additional resources for you:

Check for Medical Board Certification:
American Board of Medical Specialties, Phone: 1-866-ASK-ABMS, 847-491-9091, Fax: 847-328-3596

Private Services to Check on Doctors:
Choicetrust.com, Phone: 1-800-342-5339
U.S. Information Search, Phone: 800-596-4327, Fax: 914-931-1735
At Health.com, Mental Health Practitioners, Phone: 1-888-284-3258 or 360-668-3808, Fax: 360-668-2216 
Physicians-Background.com, Phone: 850-862-5075
Healthgrades.com, Phone: 303-716-0041
Investigate Your Doctor.com, Phone: 818 745-1212, Fax: 818-745-1260
National Practitioner Databank, Phone: 800-767-6732 or 703-802-9380; TT/TDD: 703-802-9395
Doctor Quality.com, Phone: 877-633-3923 or 610-828-9955; Fax: 610-828-9966
Best Doctors.com, Phone: 888-362-8677, Fax: 617-426-8595
American Medical Association Physician Select, Phone: 800-621-8335

Check on Your Hospital:
Healthgrades.com, Phone: 303-716-0041
U.S. News Hospital Ratings Search Engine, Phone: 202-955-2000, Fax: 202-955-2685
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Phone: 630-792-5000, Fax: 630-792-5005
American Hospital Association, at Hospital Connect, Phone: 312-422-3000
National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), Phone: 888-275-7585
Health Care Choices.com, Phone: 212-724-9395, Fax: 212-724-9577
Health Scope.org, Phone: 415-281-8660, Fax: 415-281-0960
Quality Counts.org, Phone: 608-276-6620, Fax: 608-276-6626


State Medical Boards and Medical Associations:
American Medical Association, Phone: 800-621-8335
Federation of State Medical Boards, Phone: 817-868-4000, Fax: 817-868-4099

Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 334-242-4116, Fax: 334-242-4155
Alaska State Medical Board, Phone: 907-269-8163, Fax: 907-269-8196
Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 480-551-2700, 877-255-2212
Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery, Phone: 480-657-7703
        Fax: 480-657-7715
Arkansas State Medical Board, Phone: 501-296-1802, Fax: 501-296-1805
California--Medical Board of California, Phone: 800-633-2322, 916-263-2389, Fax: 916-263-2387
California--Osteopathic Medical Board of California, Phone: 916-263-3100, Fax 916-263-3117
Colorado Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 303-894-7690, Fax: 303-894-7692
Connecticut Medical Examining Board, Phone: 860-509-7648, Fax: 860-509-7553
Delaware Board of Medical Practice, Phone: 302-744-4507, Fax: 302-739-2711
District of Columbia Board of Medicine, Phone: 202-442-4777, Fax: 202-442-9431
Florida Board of Medicine, Phone: 850-245-4131, Fax: 850-488-9325
Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Phone: 850-245-4161, Fax: 850-487-9874
Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 404-656-3913, Fax: 404-656-9723
Guam Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 011-671-475-0251, Fax: 011-671-477-4733
Hawaii Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 808-586-3000, Fax: 808-586-2874
Idaho State Board of Medicine, Phone: 208-327-7000, Fax: 208-327-7005
Illinois Department of Professional Regulation Discipline Phone: 312-814-4500, Fax: 312-814-1837
        Licensure Phone: 217-785-0800, Fax: 217-524-2169
Indiana Health Professions Bureau, Phone: 317-232-2960, Fax: 317-233-4236 
Iowa State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 515-281-5171, Fax: 515-242-5908
Kansas Board of Healing Arts, Phone: 785-296-7413,  Fax: 785-296-0852
Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Phone: 502-429-8046, Fax: 502-429-9923
Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 800-296-7549, Fax: 504-568-8893
Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine, Phone: 207-287-3601, Fax: 207-287-6590
Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure, Phone: 207-287-2480, Fax: 207-287-3015
Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance, Phone: 800-492-6836, 410-764-4777, Fax: 410-358-2252
Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Phone: 800-377-0550, 617-654-9800, Fax: 617-451-9568
Michigan Board of Medicine, Phone: 517-373-6873, Fax: 517-373-2179
Michigan Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, Phone: 517-373-6873, Fax: 517-373-2179
Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, Phone: 612-617-2130, Fax: 612-617-2166, Hearing impaired 1-800-627-3529
Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure, Phone: 601-987-3079, Fax: 601-987-4159
Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts, Phone: 573-751-0098, Fax: 573-751-3166
Montana Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 406-841-2300, Fax: 406-841-2363
Nebraska Health and Human Services, Regulation and Licensure Credentialing Division, Phone: 402-471-2115, Fax: 402-471-3577
Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 775-688-2559, Fax: 775-688-2321
Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Phone: 702-732-2147, Fax: 702-732-2079
New Hampshire Board of Medicine, Phone: 603-271-1203, Fax: 603-271-6702, Complaints Phone: 800-780-4757l
New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 609-826-7100, Fax: 609-826-7117
New Mexico State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 800-945-5845, 502-827-5022, Fax: 505-827-7377
New Mexico Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Phone: 505-476-7120, Fax: 505-476-7095
New York State Board for Medicine (Licensure), Phone: 518-474-3817, Fax: 518-486-4846
New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct (Discipline), Phone: 518-402-0855, Fax: 518-402-0866
North Carolina Medical Board, Phone: 919-326-1100, Fax: 919-326-1130
North Dakota State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 701-328-6500, Fax: 701-328-6505
State Medical Board of Ohio, Phone: 800-554-7717, 614-466-3934, Fax: 614-728-5946
Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, Phone: 800-381-4519, 405-848-6841, Fax: 405-848-8240
Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Phone: 405-528-8625, Fax: 405-557-0653
Oregon Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 503-229-5770, 877-254-6263, Fax: 503-229-6543
Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine, Phone: 717-783-1400, Fax: 717-787-7769
Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Phone: 717-783-4858, Fax: 717-787-7769
Board of Medical Examiners of Puerto Rico, Phone: 787-782-8949, Fax: 787-792-4436
Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, Phone: 401-222-3855, Fax: 401-222-2158
South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 803-896-4500, Fax: 803-896-4515
South Dakota State Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners, Phone: 605-336-1965, Fax: 605-336-0270
Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 615-532-4384, Fax: 615-532-5369
Tennessee Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Phone: 888-310-4650, 615-532-4384, Fax: 615-532-5369
Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 512-305-7010, 800-248-4062 (TX only), Fax: 512-463-9416,
      Consumer Complaint Hotline Phone: 800-201-9353
Utah Department of Commerce,  Div. of Occupational & Professional Licensure, Phone: 801-530-6628, Fax: 801-530-6511
Utah Department of Commerce,  Div. of Occupational & Professional Licensure,  Osteopathic Physician Board, Phone: 801-530-6628,           Fax: 801-530-6511
Vermont Board of Medical Practice, Phone: 802-657-4220, Fax: 802-657-4227
Vermont Board of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Phone: 802-828-2373, Fax: 802-828-2465
Virgin Islands Board of Medical Examiners, Phone: 340-774-0117, Fax: 340-777-4001
Virginia Board of Medicine, Phone: 804-662-9908, Fax: 804-662-9517
Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission, Phone: 360-236-4788, Fax: 360-586-4573
Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, Phone: 360-236-4943,  Fax: 360-236-2406
West Virginia Board of Medicine, Phone: 304-558-2921, Fax: 304-558-2084
West Virginia Board of Osteopathy, Phone: 304-723-4638, Fax: 304-723-6723
Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, Dept. of Regulation and Licensing, Phone: 608-266-2112,  Fax: 608-261-7083
Wyoming Board of Medicine, Phone: 307-778-7053, Fax: 307-778-2069

Search Mailing Lists, News Boards, and Chat Support Groups for Information on Doctors and Hospitals:
Search Yahoo Groups for Mailing Lists, Phone: 408-349-3300, FAX 408-349-3301
Search ListServ Mailing Lists, Phone 301-731-0440, Fax: 301-731-6302
Topica, Search for Mailing Lists, Phone: 415-344-0800, 415-344-0900
Usenet Info Center Launch Pad, Phone: 919-962-1621 or 919-962-0658, FAX: 919-962-5604
Search Discussion Groups on Google Groups, Phone: 650-330-0100, Fax: 650-618-1499

This site last updated on December 27, 2003.