When help is needed, who do you call?
Your mom? Maybe you pose your question in a Facebook post or tweet? In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it’s nice to know there are people you can rely on when you need help and guidance.
“A family medicine doctor is one who does a little bit of everything,” explained Dr. Scott Peterson, who practices family medicine along with his physician father, Dr. David Peterson and fellow physician Dr. Thomas Carn at the Wasatch Medical Center. “It’s much like your old general practice physicians. I enjoy delivering babies and then watching them grow into adults. I was looking at different branches of medicine and decided I really liked that lifetime continuity of care.”
In its 50 years, Wasatch Medical Center has offered care for as many as four generations of patients in some families.
As an enduring mainstay in the community, Scott Peterson, David Peterson and Carn have learned much about their patients, and they often see behaviors that create concerns. Scott noted three things he would like to see his patients carefully consider.
Don’t choose a doctor based solely on an insurance list
Sadly, some people put more thought into what value meal to order than in selecting a doctor to keep them healthy. Peterson, whose patients call him “Dr. Scott” to distinguish him from his father, urges patients to put careful thought into selecting a physician, since patients often just refer to an insurance list to select their doctor.
Yes, it is important to select a physician who accepts your insurance, but you must also consider the caregiving, too. When considering a doctor, ask yourself, “Is this a healthcare provider with whom I would feel comfortable discussing personal matters?” Consider why an insurance company might rate one physician over another; it could be because that provider saves the insurance company money. Also ask questions about recommendations from other patients. It may be that the waiting room time is prolonged because that provider is willing to spend more time with you, listening to your concerns. Is someone disgruntled because their doctor told them something that they did not want to hear?
Every physician has his or her strengths, and Dr. Scott’s concern is that patients research their physician to be sure the doctor is a good fit for the specific needs of the patient and family.
“My best advice is to network and put more stock in the opinions of people who know well and trust rather than the advice of your insurance carrier or a stranger,” Dr. Scott said.
Don’t postpone immunizations
The Internet is full of advice, and much of it sounds very logical. Despite the recent backlash criticizing the merits of immunizing children, Dr. Scott, along with other members of the medical community, work hard to promote the benefits of immunizing children.
According to the Centers of Disease Control, a 2015 study published by CNN.com found that 95 percent of kindergarteners were immunized for preventable diseases, although the state’s percentages vary.
Concerning parents who opt not to immunize, CNN.com reported, “They're a relatively small group of parents in a big country. But their decision not to vaccinate their children can have a profound impact on public health.”
For Dr. Scott and others, immunization is not a viable debate. It simply comes down to offering protection from preventable diseases for your child and those who share this world with your child.
“The last child I hospitalized for whooping cough was a 2-month-old baby girl,” Dr. Scott said. “That is the age when the immune system is at its weakest point. Although this family was immunized, someone else spread the disease to this little girl who became critically ill.”
Because whooping cough has a long recovery time, this patient was hospitalized on three different occasions.
“It broke my heart to watch them go through this,” Dr. Scott said. “Please, please immunize your children and don’t delay because delays only lead to more risks for your child and others.”
Be careful about self-diagnosis
Dr. Scott has a number of concerns about patients who self-diagnose based on websites and searches.
“I use the Internet to help diagnose patients,” Dr. Scott said. “It is a useful tool, but the Internet isn’t your friend. It hasn’t gone to school, it doesn’t read the studies I read, and it can’t talk with you personally about your unique symptoms.”
With an unprecedented accessibility to online information, it is common for patients to research their own symptoms and form their own conclusions about a possible ailment or disease. Not surprisingly, the concern for a misdiagnosis is all too real.
The dangers are two-fold. For a patient who discovers a serious disease matching her symptoms, she may begin self-treatment for an incorrect health condition, thus causing more damage. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis that minimizes the potential seriousness of a disease can delay lifesaving treatments.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. Dr. Scott states that many medically sound sites physicians use can be accessed by others for a fee. He recommends Up-To-Date and Epocrates for Physicians as well as the American Academy of Family Medicine. Free resources include the Centers for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic websites. Patients should keep in mind as they do their research that there are many sites that exist to promote the creators or their products.
“If you spend time researching an idea, then please focus your attention on sites where good science stands behind your source searching,” Dr. Scott said.
No concern is insignificant to family medicine providers such as Dr. Scott, and he urges everyone to seek regular medical checkups and care.