How We Find the Region's Top Doctors

Here are the area's top doctors as selected by other doctors. We sent questionnaires to 6,500 randomly selected area physicians asking them what doctors they would send members of their families to in each of 34 medical specialties.

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This article is from the 2005 version of Top Doctors. For
Washingtonian's 2008 Top Doctors, please click here

More than 1,150 physicians responded. Together they named thousands of doctors in the Washington-Baltimore area. This list is made up of those who received the greatest number of recommendations within their specialties, with adjustments to account for geographic distribution.

The medical specialties included are those that patients generally have a say in choosing. Anesthesiologists and emergency-room physicians, for example, are not listed because patients typically do not select them. For the first time, interventional radiologists are included on the list.

Doctors are asked to name pediatric practitioners in most specialties, and physicians who concentrate on treating children within their specialties are designated as doing so, but pediatric subspecialties themselves--pediatric cardiology, for example--are not broken out separately.

An important note: The doctors listed are not necessarily the "best" doctors in the area, and they certainly are not the only good ones. Many first-rate physicians are not on the list. There are several reasons for this.

Doctors tend to be known within the medical "villages" in which they practice and make referrals. These are usually grouped around major hospitals and population centers. Doctors in one "village" often do not know doctors in others. This can work to the disadvantage of physicians in smaller, out-of-the-way enclaves and those in "closed" organizations in which outside referrals are limited.

Some excellent doctors have such narrow subspecialties that they are not singled out in a more general context. Many physicians who practice in--and even head--hospital departments are not part of normal referral networks and therefore often go unnamed. Some younger physicians haven't been in practice long enough to establish their reputations widely. And physicians in group practices often are thought of collectively; in many instances, only one or two of the "name" physicians in a group make the list, while their associates, perhaps equally well thought of, do not garner enough mentions.

The Top Doctors selections in some respects constitute an all-star list, but the list also is designed to be broad enough to be useful to readers throughout the area.

Although the doctors on the list are respected by their colleagues, the listing of a physician here is no guarantee that you will be satisfied, nor should it be a substitute for your own inquiry and judgment. Almost every physician has bad outcomes in the course of a career, and there are few who haven't had dissatisfied patients. If you feel uncomfortable with a doctor, no matter what his or her credentials, find another.

If you have good relationships with doctors you see now, maintain those relationships, whether or not the doctors are on this or any other list. When you need the services of specialists, consult your current physicians. This list is designed to be a resource in helping you make informed decisions.

The general locations of doctors' offices in DC, Maryland, and Virginia follow their names. After the office locations are the names of the hospitals at which the physicians have privileges. Chevy Chase and Takoma Park denote Maryland locations.