How to Choose a Doctor

People often don’t think about looking for a doctor until they find themselves in need of specialized medical care or surgery. When patients don’t take the time to research their options they can end up with a doctor they don’t like, or worse, one whose medical care is subpar and possibly even dangerous. The medical malpractice attorneys at Hollingsworth Kelly Law Firm understand the importance of finding a quality doctor and have some suggestions to guide your search.

Where to start

There are a variety of ways to find a doctor. Insurance companies have lists of doctors with which they contract, but those lists rarely provide much information beyond a doctor’s name, gender and location of their office. Those shopping for a specialist might turn to advocacy groups related to their specific condition. However, for more personalized recommendations, a good place to start is with the people you know. Friends, family members and co-workers are great resources for recommendations because they’re familiar with your personality and specific needs.

Here are some things to consider when asking for a recommendation:

  • Communication style and method of delivery – Does the doctor favor email or phone?
  • Personality – Is he/she likable and easy to interact with?
  • Location – Is the office close to your work or home?
  • Availability – How long does it take to get an appointment and are the wait times reasonable?
  • Appointment length – How long does the doctor spend with his patients?
  • Hours of operation – Is the office open when you need to go?
  • Demographic – Do you prefer a doctor who is similar to you with regard to age, gender or ethnicity?
  • Experience – How long has the doctor been in practice?
  • Type of practice or specialty – Are they skilled in treating your specific condition/s?
  • Insurance compatibility – Do they accept your insurance policy?

Once you have established that a doctor is able to meet your personal preferences, the next step is to check their professional credentials. Are they board-certified? Accredited? Where did they attend school? What is their specialty? Do they have any medical malpractice claims against them?

Even if you were referred by another doctor, it is important to investigate. The referring doctor may not know the other doctor personally or may not have maintained contact. In the months or even years that may have lapsed since their last contact, a medical malpractice claim may have been filed against the referred doctor.

Remember, doctors are not immune to critical or life-changing events such as divorce, death of a loved one, or serious illness. These events may cause depression or lead to substance abuse and the effects of these issues may surface in your search. Avoid those who have exhibited this behavior or you could become the victim of medical malpractice.

Also consider checking online reviews when shopping for a doctor. Sites like Vitals and Healthgrades can give you an idea of a doctor’s bedside manner, wait times, how much time they spend with patients and whether they follow up with patients after appointments.

Online reviews can be a useful tool, but don’t rely on them alone. Keep in mind that people often are compelled to write reviews only when they are especially pleased or very unhappy.

How to check licenses and certifications

The internet has many resources available to prospective patients. The Arizona Medical Board website is an ideal place to begin your investigation.  The Licensee Search provides public information about a doctor’s standing with the organization. Look for actions filed against the doctor, such as a reprimand for unprofessional conduct or medical license revocation. This search also provides information about physicians’ education and training, as well as their area of interest.

Patients also should verify specialty certifications. This can be done through the American Board of Medical Specialties website. Most doctors have a specialty – pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, orthopedics – and it’s important to make sure they are certified for the area in which they are practicing. They may also have a subspecialty, for instance, a dermatologist whose subspecialty is skin cancer. If you are searching for a specialist for the treatment of a specific condition, it can be worthwhile to choose a doctor whose subspecialty is specific to your diagnosis.

Your health is on the line

Ideally, prospective patients should meet with new doctors prior to seeking medical treatment. If that option is not available, use your first appointment to ask questions and judge your level of comfort with the doctor. This is a chance to evaluate the doctor in-person and get a feel for whether they are compatible.

The doctor-patient relationship should be a lasting one, requiring trust and effective communication. Patients should feel comfortable interacting with their doctors and be confident that their doctor has the skills and experience to provide them with the best treatment. If you do not, or if you get a bad feeling about a doctor after meeting with him or her, continue searching until you are satisfied. Trust your instincts – they’re usually right.

This information is provided as a public service by Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice.

Motorcycles prove higher accident risk

Though sporty, fast, and streamlined, motorcycles are definitely a riskier choice when it comes to travel.

In 2011, there were 2,553 injuries from motorcycle-related collisions resulting in 132 fatalities according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Significantly, 47% of the violations given resulted in no improper action on behalf of the motorcyclist.

The fact is, motorcycles can often be difficult to see. They are easily hidden by blind spots when turning into intersections or when changing lanes, which is why it is important for both drivers and motorcycle operators to be cautious.

The risks of motorcycles and how to reduce accidents

Unlike motorcycles, cars and trucks offer a shell of safety for their drivers and passengers.  Motorcyclists however, are especially vulnerable to injuries, as there is little to shield them from contact with another motor vehicle or from the asphalt itself.

Even though head injuries account for the majority of motorcycle fatalities, Arizona’s mandatory helmet law applies only to drivers and passengers 17 and younger. These injuries may be prevented with the proper use of helmets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a helmet’s protection of the head, face, and brain reduces the risk of brain injury by 67%.

There are several types of helmets—open face (or three-quarter), and half, among them. What is most important when choosing a helmet however, is verifying that it has the DOT certification sticker signifying the helmet meets test standards for safety.

Don’t be invisible

  • Drive defensively. Assume other motorists do not see you.
  • It can be difficult for drivers to see motorcycles due to their significantly smaller size compared to trucks and cars. Wearing bright clothing and helmets increases visibility on the road.
  • Driving with your headlights on, even during the day, will improve your visibility. Most motorcycle collisions occur during daytime hours. Last year, there were 2,107 motorcycle accidents during daylight hours. Fortunately, most motorcycles have lights which come on automatically when the vehicle is turned on.
  • Don’t drive tired. If you are fatigued, your response time and driving ability may be compromised.
  • Make your signals known.  Don’t waiver or be indecisive when driving. Make sure you provide an adequate amount of space and time when signaling for lane changes, turns, and braking.

 Car drivers use caution

Last year there were 1,436 accidents involving motorcycles and vehicles. Regardless of who was at fault, the following suggestions may reduce the chances of this happening to you.

  • It can be difficult to judge the speed or how close an approaching motorcycle is when you’re about to turn in an intersection. Err on the side of caution and always assume that it is closer than it seems to be.
  • Thoroughly check traffic before switching lanes. Sometimes motorcycles can be hidden in the blind spots of your vehicle, especially if you drive a large SUV or truck.

This information is provided as a public service by Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice.


Practice Pedestrian Safety and Street Smarts

Because our personal injury attorneys see a high incidence of traffic-related accidents causing injury or death to pedestrians, we want to make you aware of how to protect yourself when you’re walking along Tucson’s busy streets.

On average, there is one pedestrian death every 2 hours and another pedestrian-related injury every 8 minutes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Though pedestrians are often at the mercy of drivers on the road, in many instances pedestrian accidents are preventable with the proper safety precautions.

Though measures have been taken to reduce the number of pedestrian crashes in Arizona, there were 155 pedestrian fatalities in 2010. The State of Arizona, in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration, is one of the states that have received technical assistance to reduce injuries, fatalities, and crashes.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, these measures include construction of new sidewalks, development of safe routes to walk to school, and the installation of High-intensity Activated Crosswalks (HAWKs).

The Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is designed to reduce the number and frequency of walking-related injuries, crashes, and fatalities.

You have the right-of-way… Right?

Contrary to what many may think, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way when walking the streets. Arizona law dictates that pedestrians do have the right-of-way when walking in marked, and with exceptions, unmarked crosswalks.

This doesn’t mean that pedestrians do not need to exercise caution. Often times, pedestrian-related injuries happen when they are in a crosswalk and an inattentive driver fails to see them.

Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way when they are crossing at any place other than a crosswalk. They are to yield to oncoming vehicles if they’re crossing at any location other than a crosswalk. In fact, pedestrians have an obligation to never, “suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield” (A.R.S. § 28-792).

Where to walk?

We all know that in a sprawling city such as Tucson, there are not always sidewalks. Since sidewalks are the safest places to walk, if one is present, it is against the law to walk on the roadway.

However if there isn’t a sidewalk, pedestrian law states that you should walk on the left side of a roadway facing traffic. This makes you more visible to oncoming vehicles.

Pedestrian safety tips

  • Be cautious when crossing streets at busy intersections. Drivers may fail to yield for pedestrians if they are turning onto a different street. Remain alert and aware of any oncoming vehicles before crossing.
  • Increase your visibility. If you are walking at night, wear bright reflective clothing. Carry a flashlight so that you can be seen by drivers.
  • Cross in well lit areas at night.
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic on the left side of the street.
  • Teach children to look in both directions before crossing streets.
  • Only cross at designated crosswalks when possible.
  • Cross streets when there is a clear view in both directions.
  • Never assume that because you are in a crosswalk that you are safe.  Sometimes, drivers are inattentive or they ignore pedestrians’ right-of- way.

Driver safety tips

  • Drive slowly through neighborhoods, parks, and school zones. Obey posted speed limits.
  • Stop at all crosswalks when there is a pedestrian present.
  • Do not overtake and pass other vehicles that are stopped for a pedestrian.
  • Drive slowly through parking lots where pedestrians may be walking between cars.
  • Use caution when turning at intersections; be on the lookout for pedestrians that may have entered your path while you wait for a chance to turn.

Note: Having the right-of-way does not guarantee the safety of a pedestrian. Exercise caution prior to crossing any streets.

For more pedestrian safety tips visit Walk Safe Drive Safe.

This information is provided as a public service by Tucson personal injury law firm Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice.

Dust Storm Safety: Pull Aside, Stay Alive

Driving through dangerous dust storms is always a risk when driving on Arizona highways.

These sudden and blinding storms can cause serious motor vehicle accidents within a matter of seconds.

Every year there are numerous dust-storm-related crashes, especially along the dusty I-10 corridor that commuters use to get from Tucson to Phoenix.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Pull Aside, Stay Alive campaign, here is how to stay safe if you are caught in a dust storm:

  • Check traffic around you and slow your vehicle.
  • Pull off of the roadway as soon as possible. Do not stop in the emergency lane–pull off of the paved roadway.
  • Set your emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake once you are completely stopped.
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt buckled until the storm passes.

Prevent being in a dust storm accident in Arizona. To find out about current road conditions or to receive high impact traffic alerts visit, or call 511 within Arizona.

Prevent Drowning Accidents

Sadly, the end of summer does not mean the end of drowning incidents.

Along with barbeques, pool parties, and family lake trips comes the need to practice water safety. The most important thing a parent or guardian can do is prevent water- related injuries or death.

According to the CDC, drowning is ranked as the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States.  Additionally, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.

In 2011, Arizona ranked the third highest in the number of childhood drownings. More must be done to prevent these incidents.

Tips to help prevent drowning accidents

  • Fence off pool areas with barriers that are at least four feet tall. Make sure there is no space for a child to squeeze through. Self-closing or self-latching gates are ideal for stopping children from enter a pool area unattended.
  • Make sure your children receive swim lessons.
  • Remove all toys, ladders, and flotation devices from the pool to deter children from trying to reach for them and potentially falling in the water.
  • Check that all drains have covers. Drains may have very powerful suction that can cause injury to a child, or even keep them trapped under water.
  • Use life jackets for weaker swimmers.
  • Pay very close attention to children in pools. Do not allow for distractions such as phone calls, door bells, or conversations.
  • Learn how to administer CPR. There are many classes available to learn this training.
  • Enforce pool safety rules around the pool to prevent accidental injuries and drowning.

Pool Safety Checklist

Making pool safety a priority will keep your family, friends and neighbors safe around your pool. Make time to check drains and barriers, purchase life jackets and other flotation devices you may need, and teach water safety skills to everyone who will be enjoying your pool.

This information is provided as a public service by Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice.

Give Your Baby a Boost

A new Arizona Law could result in a $50 fine if you are found driving with a child who is not seated in a booster seat. Starting August 2, 2012, a child must be seated and restrained in a booster seat if they are between the ages of 5 and 7 and under 4’ 10”.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, car crashes are the most fatal accident for children ages 1 to 12 in the U.S. To reduce these child injury statistics, proper use of booster seats may prevent serious injuries or fatalities.

As parents, we know that one of your biggest concerns while in the car is the safety of your infant or toddler. This is why the type of car seat or booster seat that you choose is immensely important. The right seat and proper installation can mean the difference between life and death for your child if you are in a car accident.

As you know, there are numerous types and models of car seats to choose from. It can be trying to choose the best option for your child. This is why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled a list of the best and worst booster seats for your child. It is imperative that the seat you choose properly fits not only your child, but your car as well.

Five-step safety test

There are various resources available to ensure the proper seat and fit for your child. SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A, a non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety offers this 5-step test that all parents should utilize when deciding whether or not their child needs a booster seat.

  • Does the child sit all the way back with hips against the auto seat?
  • Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  • Does the shoulder belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
  • Is the lap belt as low on the hips as possible and touching the thighs?
  • Can the child stay seated like this for the duration of the trip?

If the answer to any of these questions was “no” a booster seat is necessary to ensure proper seat belt positioning and protection.

Parents are also encouraged to take their booster seat and car the nearest car inspection station. The locations are available at the.

For those whose concern is the cost of a booster seat, there are programs available that offer assistance. Safe Kids Pima County and TMC offers parents information and training on how to properly install a car seat.

If you witness a child who is not properly restrained, you are encouraged to call the “Buckle Up, Baby” hot line: 1-800-505-BABY. The following information is necessary to file a report:

  • Vehicle License number and state
  • The location of the vehicle
  • Where the child was sitting in the vehicle

This information is provided as a public service by Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice