What If Doctors Were Reviewed Like Restaurants?

By Howard J. Bennett, MD

It’s always been difficult for patients to know how good their doctors are. To remedy this situation, we’ve taken a cue from the restaurant industry and created the following guide.

Our reviewers all completed a six-month course to find out what it takes to be a great doctor. They also subjected themselves to rectal exams, minor surgery and other medical indignities. The result is an accurate, up-to-the-minute guide for the doctors in your area.

West End Medical Group

Throughout the day and into the evening, this downtown practice offers superior medical care in an attractive setting. The waiting room gets the afternoon sun, which plays beautifully against the office décor. If your wait is longer than anticipated, there’s a room off to the side with fax machines, PCs, and Internet access for those of you who can never leave the office.

This a large group practice so there are enough doctors on staff to please everyone’s needs. The exam rooms have an abundance of magazines for just about any taste. My own preference for an urban sensibility was easily satisfied with the New Yorker, GQ, and Vanity Fair. Medically minded patients can check out recent issues of The New England Journal of Medicine or this week’s Oprah.

The fun begins once the nurse arrives. Start with the basics—height and weight, blood pressure, and a full history. After the doctor examines you, he might suggest something light, such as an EKG, x-ray, or lab work. Procedures that are more involved usually have to be rescheduled, but they are worth the wait. Recommendations include sigmoidoscopy on a vinyl covered exam table with light sedation, vasectomy under a sterile drape with local anesthesia, and a glucose tolerance test that comes in a disposable cup with a wedge of lemon.

The Mansfield Clinic

Under the skilled supervision of general surgeon, Tom “Lightning” Jackson, the Mansfield Clinic remains one of the best surgical bets in the area. No matter what ails you, you can have your insides cut out by the finest surgeons in the country.

Top honors go to the laparoscopic cholecystectomy that has you out of the hospital in a speedy 72 hours. For light fare, various lumps and bumps can be removed in the clinic’s spacious procedure rooms that overlook the city’s scenic riverfront. Favorites include lipomas, sebaceous cysts, and dermoids.

Ample parking is available across the street from the clinic and, as an added bonus, there is a marvelous deli around the corner.

Thomas Fletcher, MD, PC

With its cramped waiting room, worn furniture, and out-of-date magazines, this practice evokes the style of a small town doctor’s office circa 1940. There’s even a grumpy old nurse to greet you at the check-in counter when you show up for your appointment. During the spring and summer months, the office is filled with rambunctious children covered with cuts, scrapes, and a myriad of rashes. This adds to the atmosphere, however, as you wait to be called back for your appointment.

Doc Fletcher has a nice bedside manner, which includes a warm smile and a dry sense of humor. The chest examination was marred slightly by a cold stethoscope, and the abdominal exam began with a somewhat heavy-handed approach to feeling the liver and spleen. The pelvic exam proceeded gingerly from start to finish.

Dr. Fletcher is getting on in years and his son joined the practice last fall. Although Tom, Jr. is still a little “wet behind the ears,” the Ladies Auxiliary Club voted him the most eligible bachelor in town.

Patrick O’Brien’s Psychiatric Clinic

If you can’t go home for the holidays, there’s no more comforting place to be than on a plush, 19th century couch at Pat O’Brien’s Psychiatric Clinic. Dr. O’Brien opened his mental-health center ten years ago and, despite the mention of the word “couch,” his clinic offers treatment options for just about every taste and budget.

Specialties include insight-oriented psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and cognitive behavioral therapy. For more eclectic tastes, try the Gestalt therapy, biofeedback, and regression hypnosis. Finally, for those of you who believe that patients who are lying down are either dead or asleep, there is a psycho-pharmacologist on staff who can write a prescription for Zoloft faster than you can say “Sigmund Freud.”

The Dermatology Center 

Whether you have acne, spider veins, or too much hair in unwanted places, The Dermatology Center remains one of the city’s hot spots in an overcrowded downtown medical environment. The office’s stunning design invites patients to explore the waiting room, sipping a cup of herbal tea or cappuccino while waiting to see the doctor. If you tire of the décor, sit down and browse through their 200-page book of “before and after” photos of satisfied patients. It leaves you with the sense that these doctors can indeed make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Mole removal is the clinic’s signature procedure, but you should also try the face peels, Botox, and deftly applied liquid nitrogen sprays. In most cases, the doctors will have you in and out of the office in less than 10 minutes.

Nighttime Docs

Over the past 10 years, urgent care centers have sprung up across the country like Starbucks. Nighttime Docs is a welcome addition to this new breed of health care. There is ample parking behind the building, though being located next to a funeral home might be a little disconcerting for some people.

Patients are seen by appointment or on a first-come, first-served basis. The waiting room is well designed, if a little Spartan, and the furniture is early Holiday Inn. Nighttime Docs has the friendliest nurses in town, and owner/physician Mark Thomas staffs the center with board-certified docs who have yet to land a “real” job.

The medical care at Nighttime Docs is more than adequate with an approach that is somewhere between ER and Marcus Welby. This is not the place to go if you have chest pain or a kidney stone. However, if you have a sore throat, bronchitis, or a foreign body in your 3-year-old’s nose, Nighttime Docs will get the job done, and they’ll do it hell of a lot faster than any emergency room.

The Pediatric Center

Sometime this summer, The Pediatric Center is slated to open its newest office in the southeast section of the city. This popular practice has been poking holes in children for the past 50 years, and they show no sign of slowing down.

The center has well- and sick-child waiting rooms so you won’t have to worry that some snotty-nosed 4-year-old will cough on your beautifully appointed infant or toddler. A large aquarium and video games adorn one side of the waiting room, and the head nurse comes to work in clothes that are so wild, she makes Patch Adams look like a choirboy.

Décor notwithstanding, if you want terrific pediatric care at a reasonable price, this is the place to be. Diagnoses vary throughout the year with sore throats, colds, and ear infections making up the bulk of winter fare. Routine physicals are featured all year long, but come into their own during the summer months when camp season begins.

For many, the office’s best offerings include the rapid strep tests and the Sesame Street gowns.

Oh, I almost forgot—they validate!

© 2012 Howard J. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

(First published in Stitches, The Journal of Medical Humor September 1999.)

For more articles and other information,
please visit Dr. B’s website at http://www.howardjbennett.com