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Louisiana's Top Doctors: the latest results

Looking for the best in 68 specialty areas

(page 1 of 7)

Here are the results from the latest survey attempting to rank the state’s top doctors. There is no more scientifically based list of recommended doctors available.
In anticipation of some of your questions, here are some answers:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT METHODOLOGY

HOW WERE THE TOP DOCTORS SELECTED?
We used the services of Best Doctors Inc. The Boston-based company is the pre-eminent organization at gathering professional peer ratings. Through the years the company has built a database of professionals who are highly regarded by their peers. Those professionals are in turn interviewed for their recommendations. Listed here are the very latest survey results from Best Doctors. Most of the surveying was done through the first half of 2009.

WHAT QUESTION IS ASKED OF THE DOCTORS WHO ARE INTERVIEWED?
Best Doctors contacts each doctor on the previous list and asks the same question: “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty and you couldn’t treat them yourself, to whom would you refer them?”

DO DOCTORS GET A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO OTHER NAMES RECOMMENDED? Every doctor has the opportunity both to comment (confidentially) on the other doctors included in his or her specialty and to make additional nominations. As new names are added to the pool, each undergoes the same peer-evaluation process. The company claims to have developed special software to correct for some methodological biases: for example, to detect and correct for suspect voting patterns and to weigh votes according to the ratings of the doctors who are doing the recommending.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DATA? There is a continual refinement of both the voting pool and the nominee pool. Each time a poll is conducted, the list is sifted, refined and improved for better representation and more solid consensuses.

HOW DOES THIS DIFFER FROM LOCAL SURVEYS? One major difference: Doctors are evaluated by their peers nationwide, not just by doctors in their community. In many areas, doctors may be better-known and -evaluated by those within their specialty groups, regardless of where they live, than by local doctors who may not be as knowledgeable in specific specialty areas.

DO DOCTORS HAVE TO PAY TO BE ON THE LIST? NO! We would never use the list if that were the case. Here is the company’s own statement on that issue: “Best Doctors never takes compensation of any kind from doctors or hospitals in return for listing doctors in its database, nor does Best Doctors pay doctors to participate in its survey process.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RULES THAT THE COMPANY USES?

•Doctors are allowed to vote on others in their hospital and medical practices.  The feeling is that those doctors know their peers best –– that is where the survey gets some of its most outspoken evaluations, good and bad.

• Doctors are never “automatically” re-included.  In each biennial poll, current Best Doctors are re-evaluated along with the new nominees.

•All of the voting is strictly confidential.

•Doctors are not notified of their inclusion on the list until after the survey process is completed. Doctors are not required to pay a fee or make a purchase to be included.

HOW MANY DOCTORS WERE SURVEYED? As part of its nationwide survey, the company interviewed more than 30,000 doctors. This is the most recent, credible survey of doctors. 

ARE THE SURVEYS ADMINISTERED RANDOMLY? No.  To get opinions with weight and professional credibility, Best Doctors tries to consult the very best.

Best Doctors contacts all current physicians on the list, including many department heads at major teaching hospitals, and asks them to rate specialists outside their own facilities. According to Best Doctors, the medical community has been extremely supportive over the past 16 years it has administered the survey, providing a 40 percent response rate. 

WHERE’S THE BIAS? There is no perfect, bias-free way to conduct a ranking of any sort. Although Best Doctors has through the years refined its techniques to eliminate biases, any nomination process that relies on peer evaluations will naturally favor more senior doctors who have had time to develop a reputation. Those who are new in their professions or those who have not had much peer interaction will naturally get less recognition. The broadness and the depth of the voting pool help eliminate biases and cronyism that might be reflected in smaller surveys.

HOW CREDIBLE IS BEST DOCTORS? We know of no better company for providing this type of information. Best Doctors’ roots begin with Woodward/White Inc. of Aiken, S.C. That company was founded by a person who was diagnosed with a terminal illness who discovered the frustrations of facing serious illness but not having any source as a reference for medical help.

Woodward/White was once the subject of a favorable report on 60 Minutes. Although Best Doctors is now located in Boston, the research unit is still in Aiken.

HOW WERE THE MEDICAL CATEGORIES USED IN THIS SELECTION DETERMINED? They were selected by Best Doctors.

IS THIS THE DEFINITIVE LIST? Of course not. We have no doubt that there are many worthy doctors who were not included in the list. We are confident, however, that all who are listed are truly top doctors.

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