Picking an ENT
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If you have problems with chronic sinus infections, sore throats, ear infections or tonsillitis your primary care physician may suggest that you see an otolaryngologist for treatment. Otolaryngologists are commonly known as ENTs because they specialize in treatment of the ears, nose and throat. In addition, they also treat most balance and vertigo problems since those issues are frequently caused by problems with the ears.
Finding the right ENT can seem overwhelming. You could open up the phone book and just call the first doctor on the list, but how would you know if it is the right ENT for you? Here are some tips on picking an ENT that meets your needs for specialized treatment.
ENTs that treat children
If the suggestion to see an ENT came from your child’s pediatrician, you will want to find an ENT with experience in pediatric otolaryngology. Some ENTs specialize in treatment of children; others see patients of all ages but have extensive experience treating children.
You will feel much better if your child is in the hands of an ENT that is accustomed to treating children. When you speak to potential ENTs, make sure to find out if they specialize in pediatric otolaryngology or if they treat large numbers of children.
Ask your insurance provider
Most conditions treated by ENTs are eligible for coverage under private insurance or Medicaid or Medicare. That means your insurance carrier is a great place to start on your ENT hunt. Your health insurance provider will have a database of ENTs in your area so you can rest assured that the ENT you pick is an ENT that works with your insurance.
Your insurance provider is also a wealth of information about what treatments are covered by your insurance. They can also tell you if the visit to the ENT requires a referral from your family physician.
If the referring physician mentions that a surgical procedure might be necessary, be sure to ask your insurance carrier if the coverage for procedures performed in the office is the same as procedures performed at a surgical facility. Many minor procedures, such as balloon sinuplasty, can be performed right in the ENT’s office.
Check hospital affiliation
ENTs are not only clinicians but they are also trained as surgeons. If your treatment requires surgery that cannot be performed in the ENT’s office, your ENT will use an affiliated hospital. Make sure you know in advance the hospitals with which your ENT is affiliated. You want to know that the facility has a good reputation and is accredited by the Joint Commission.
Evaluate patient satisfaction
Patient satisfaction is very subjective. What is important to one patient may be insignificant to another. That doesn’t mean you ignore patient surveys. HealthGrades is an easy to use resource to find out what other patients think. Surveys and feedback can give you an idea of how the office operates and an idea of the ENT’s bedside manner.
Ask friends and family
Don’t overlook friends and family as references. If someone tells you they know the name of a great ENT, be sure to ask them why they think the ENT is great. Asking friends and family is like getting satisfaction survey information in real time.