besides asking friends and family for doctor recommendations, where else would you find out whether a doctor has good reviews/ratings?
are websites such as healthgrades.com legit?
I usually ask my PCP, friends, and family. Then I check the state physician license database. They list any judgements and sanctions against the physician. Then I read the online reviews. If you know any nurses that work in that specialty, you can ask who they would go to.
Regarding asking the PCP - it seems like they refer you to people they know are accepting new patients and/or people they like. I'm not always sure they are the best judge of the quality of a specialist. My PCP referred me to someone once. I went to 1 appointment and just felt something was "off." I then checked the license database and found the specialist had 2 judgements that were "higher than the national average " against her in just the past year. I looked at other physicians in the same specialty. None had any judgements against them. I went to someone else. A year later I heard that the board had just suspended the physician that seemed "off" for narcotics addiction.
Regarding checking the licensing database for judgements - Just because someone has a judgement against them doesn't mean they are bad. Some specialties get sued more than others. It could also mean that the physician takes more difficult cases than everyone else.
Regarding online reviews - I don't bother with the ones that just give you a number of stars rating. I want to read what someone says. That way I can judge if their complaint is important to me. For example if several people say that the Dr doesn't answer their questions, then he's not for me. If they complain that she wouldn't give them narcotics, then that probably won't be a problem for me.
At the end of the day I think it is mostly luck, but at least I tried.
I agree that most doctors have very little idea how competent thier peers are, unless they work in OR etc. Its funny that a very good PCP will sometimes refer to a not so good specialist. Also double agree on the only reviews being worthwhile are written ones.