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 39 medical specialties. More than 1,300 physic

By: Ken DeCell

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, in each of 39 medical specialties, they would send members of their families to. More than 1,300 responded. Together they named thousands of physicians in the Washington/Baltimore area. Here are those who received the greatest number of recommendations within their specialties, with adjustments for geographic distribution.

The specialties included are those in which patients generally have a choice of doctor. Anesthesiologists, emergency-room physicians, and diagnostic radiologists, for example, aren’t listed because patients typically don’t select them.

Doctors were asked to name pediatric practitioners in most specialties, and physicians who concentrate on treating children within their specialties are identified as such.

Who’s a Top Doctor?

The doctors on this list are not necessarily all of the area’s “best” doctors, and they certainly are not the only good ones. Many first-rate physicians aren’t on the list, and there are reasons for this.

Doctors tend to be known within the medical “villages” in which they practice and make referrals. These are usually grouped around hospitals and population centers. Doctors in one “village” often don’t know doctors in others. This can work to the disadvantage of physicians in out-of-the-way places and in “closed” organizations in which outside referrals are limited.

Some excellent doctors have such narrow subspecialties that they’re not singled out. Many physicians who practice in—and even head—hospital departments aren’t 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 qualified, don’t get enough votes.

The Top Doctors list does include many of the area’s medical all-stars, but it’s designed to be extensive enough to be useful to readers throughout the region.

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

If you have good relationships with doctors you see now, it makes sense to 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. We hope it helps keep you in good health.