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From the Editor: Making the Cut

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Every time we do a top doctors issue, the question everyone asks is this: How do we choose?

And no one wants to know more than the doctors themselves.

So here goes: full disclosure.

In June, we mailed surveys to every licensed, practicing physician we could find in Delaware. That’s about 1,000 doctors. Is that every doctor in the state? No, but it’s close. Finding them all is difficult. List services are woefully incomplete, often inaccurate, and the state’s Division of Professional Regulation, which licenses physicians in Delaware, will not release mailing addresses (though you’d think that would be public information).

So this year, we surveyed members of the Delaware Medical Society and other doctors who became aware of our research and personally asked for ballots. The survey asked who they would recommend to a loved one in several areas of specialty.

Respondents have about two weeks to return the surveys. Only original prints are accepted, and only one reply per doctor to prevent ballot stuffing. Doctors must provide contact information so we can verify their responses, but we keep that information confidential.

Doctors who make the list receive the most nominations from their peers. The results can be found in this month’s Top Doctors story, which starts on page 80.

Is the method perfect? No. The two biggest criticisms we hear from the doctors is that the survey can become a sort of popularity contest, and that doctors who practice in large group offices can organize voting campaigns that unfairly skew results.

Both of those criticisms may be true to some degree. But they are also true of the methodologies used by national referral groups that make their information available to other city and regional magazines like Delaware Today. What’s more, those groups fail to identify many of the fine physicians who practice outside densely populated areas such as New Castle County, especially those who practice outside the clusters of medical offices around our major hospitals.

So we do it ourselves. And we can say unequivocally we have never written about a doctor who was not highly esteemed by his or her peers. We stand behind every one, so you can be confident in the skills of the professionals profiled in these pages.

By the way, we use the same method for stories such as Top Lawyers and Top Dentists (coming in December). We are always looking for ways to improve, so I welcome all suggestions. Please email me at mnardone@delawaretoday.com.

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