February 17, 2003 at 9:05 PM CST - Updated August 27 at 2:15 AM
First time patient at the Highland Clinic, 83-year-old Harry Lazarus is being treated for an abnormal growth on the back of his neck.
"Did you ask how long he has been a doctor? "No, I just took the recommendation of a hospital administrator who I exercise with."
Doctor Daniel Knight a member of the Shreveport Medical Society says many patients like Lazarus do not inquire about a physician's background or training before choosing a doctor, but that they should.
"Ask if he is board certified. Make sure he is certified in the specialty he is performing.
Knight says most patients like Melissa Gomez tend to ask questions only about their procedure.
"I asked him about the risks I did not hardly have any questions."
But he says you should always ask how long the doctor has been practicing medicine, and that is not all.
"You may want to ask about his education and that type of thing."
You can find out if a doctor is certified or licensed to practice medicine through several resources.
"Either the American Board of Medical Specialties or the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners website."
You can find the names of physician's and a summary of their violations and reprimands on websites on the Internet. Doctor Knight says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons requires its doctors to be recertified every 10 years.
"It means we have to take more exams and keep up to date with current trends and different technologies so we can keep our skills up."