This list has certain built-in limitations readers should be aware of. Castle Connolly has tried to avoid including doctors who, for one reason or another, are likely to be impossible to reach on the phone or get an appointment with. These include many respected heads of departments, teachers, researchers, and clinicians doing double-duty as administrators. The list has a slight but unavoidable bias against excellent younger doctors, since they are often not yet as well known among their peers as older doctors. And finally, because the rankings are based exclusively on surveys sent to doctors and other health-care professionals, the patient's perspective occasionally gets short shrift. The list, therefore, cannot be treated as the last word; it should be but one tool among many. Speak with friends, talk to other patients, and consult your primary-care physician. When you meet a doctor for the first time, don't be afraid to question him or her closely. And pay attention to first impressions. "When you buy something, you want to know everything about it," says Dr. Waxman. "When you're in a doctor's office, ask yourself, Do I want to come back here? Is there an upbeat atmosphere in the office? You should get a good feeling from the nurses and assistants, who are a reflection of the doctor. You should feel good there."
Good patients also know how to protect themselves, and if you are not 100 percent convinced of a doctor's bona fides, you can try consulting the book 16,638 Questionable Doctors, published by the Public Citizens Health Research Group (800-289-3787), which lists doctors who have been disciplined by state or federal agencies. Your state's health department can also provide information on past disciplinary actions taken against a physician. (The New York State Department of Health's Website can be located at www.health.state.ny.us.)
Each doctor in this issue is listed under the specialty or subspecialty in which he or she was nominated. Names are followed by subspecialties or areas of interest, county or borough, office phone number, primary hospital, and HMOs. Insurance looms over every medical decision these days, and we asked each doctor to list up to eight of the most commonly offered managed-care plans he or she accepts. HMO affiliations are constantly changing, practically on a weekly basis, and dozens of smaller plans were excluded because of space, so before making an appointment, be sure to confirm which plans a doctor will accept. In some cases, a doctor has decided to refuse to accept any managed-care plan, while others simply decline to specify. We have left these entries blank.
Finally, ten New York doctors have been chosen for our second medical Hall of Fame. This select group of practitioners embody the qualities -- skill, empathy, experience, intelligence, and good humor -- that we are all looking for whenever we step into an examining room. Happily, they are not hard to find in New York, and one of the greatest pleasures that comes from putting together this issue is discovering how many of them are out there.
Castle Connolly Guides The Best Doctors in New York 1999 list is excerpted from How to Find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area (Fourth Edition), to be published in the fall by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. It is based on extensive surveys of medical professionals in the New York area. The third edition is available now in bookstores or directly from the company (call 800-399-DOCS or visit their Website at www.bestdocs.com). For a fee, the current edition can also be searched online.