Choosing a complementary medical practitioner

Choosing a complementary medical practitioner

Is mom considering an herb-based remedy? If so, she joins 24% of American adults who report using herbal medicines, supplements, or teas. Fifteen percent turn to chiropractors, while 9% use acupuncture and 6% use homeopathy.

You probably have heard individual success stories. But the risks and benefits of many alternative treatments have not been scientifically confirmed. And sometimes seemingly harmless herbs or supplements can actually interfere with prescription drugs.

It’s not that your loved one shouldn’t try alternatives. You simply want to take reasonable precautions and coordinate with your relative’s regular doctor.

Find a competent practitioner.

  • Ask your relative’s doctor for a referral.
  • Look online for a professional organization. They can provide information about training and licensing and a directory of providers.
  • Find out if there is a state regulatory agency that records problem practitioners. Look up the license of any providers you are considering to be sure they are still licensed and no serious complaints have been made against them.

Learn about the practitioner. Check out their website or brochure. Ideally, have a brief, introductory interview in person or over the phone.

  • Ask about training and licensing and years in practice.
  • Find out about areas of specialization. Describe your loved one’s diagnoses. What can the provider tell you about the process and success rates for these conditions? Are there any research papers available?
  • Ask what your relative should expect in terms of benefits. What about risks? How might this treatment affect other current treatments?
  • Inquire about office practices. What are the fees? The typical number of sessions? Do they accept Medicare? Is the treatment covered by your relative’s supplemental insurance?
  • Will the complementary practitioner coordinate with the primary care physician?

Before starting treatment. Share the complementary provider’s plan with your relative’s primary care doctor. Does the doctor have any concerns? It’s better for your loved one overall if the two plans of care can become an integrated approach.