I Am Not A "Leading Physician of the World" or How Not To Find a Cardiologist

.The other day I received a letter from the “International Association of Cardiologists”. They informed me that I had been named one of “The Leading Physicians of the World”.  My initial reaction to this was “Great! Somebody has finally recognized my mad doctoring skills.”
However, being the skeptical cardiologist I am naturally suspicious of any organization with which I am totally unfamiliar,  bestowing honors upon me.  I decided to look further into this organization since it is likely that patients may be making decisions on what doctors to see based on these types of “honors.”

How Do You Pick a Cardiologist?

It is extremely hard for the average patient to decide which cardiologist they should see. Reputation does not always correlate with competence.  A good bedside manner doesn’t mean a doctor knows what is he doing. There is no way to view doctors’ quality of care statistics. Cardiologists who order lots of tests might seem to be on top of things but are the tests really indicated? Bad doctors can come from really good training programs and great doctors can come from weak training programs.
A useful starting point is to look for a cardiologist board-certified in cardiology and with FACC after their name. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is our main organization and becoming a fellow in the college (FACC) means you have successfully completed a credentialed cardiology training program.

What does an honor like “Leading Physician of the World” mean?

I called the telephone number in the letter and began a fascinating conversation. After a few superficial questions about what kind of practice I was in, how long I had been in practice, and what my specialties were, the woman congratulated me on being a “very successful physician” and told me I had been honored as one of “The Leading Physicians of The World” and would accrue all the benefits of this status.
Benefits including publication in the “Leading Health Care Workers of the world” book and a listing in the “find a top doc” registry.
What followed was a classic high pressure marketing spiel.  The best level, it seemed, for me was the “Diamond Level.” For only $969 up front, another $199 when my biography was published, and a monthly fee of  $34.95,  I would be featured in the prestigious diamond section of the book.  The other benefits of the diamond section were a free gift and a companion airline ticket voucher worth up to $550. Cardiologists, she told me, usually went with this level because the airline ticket voucher was “cost-effective “.
When I said “I am not interested in paying any money” she told me that the Platinum level at $769 up front would then be a better fit. This continued through multiple precious metal levels and declining fees with associated smaller page listings until it became apparent that there was no level that did not require the monthly $34.95 fee and I ended the conversation.
After this experience it has become clear to me that this organization  exists entirely to make money and the honors it bestows and its publications are meaningless. Doctors recognized by this organization are not necessarily special, leading, or at the top of their profession, they just elected to pay for a meaningless honor (or they mistakenly considered it an honor) perhaps in the hopes that it would generate more business.
Personally, I would be embarrassed to have such a listing and as a patient I would shy away from doctors who are paying for it.
The  website for The Leading Physicians of the World is very slick and professional looking and states that the purpose of the organization is

“The Leading Physicians of the World was founded on the idea that personal achievement is deserving of recognition and reward. Through a variety of benefits offered LPW honors our selected physicians through massive multi media exposure in an effort to place consumers in the hands of the right doctor.”
and that physicians are

“Selected for their experience, forward thinking, and highest quality of care, The Leading Physicians of the World, are the most distinguished and desired medical professionals from every specialty.aaa (sic)”
In reality, this organization is a sham, there is no attempt to assess the “forward thinking” or “quality of care” of the physicians listed, the only thing that matters is the dollars the doctors paid.
The other benefit that I was offered if I paid up was a listing in “findatopdoc.com”. This website performs a search for doctors by specialty and by location and claims that you can make an instant appointment with the top docs identified in the search. Three cardiologists in the St. Louis area came up. When I clicked to make an appointment, the button was inactive.
Finding a good cardiologist is a very difficult process. I’ll write more on this in future posts. It is unfortunate that companies like “The International Association of Cardiologists”, “The International Association of Health Care Professionals” (and all of its International Associations of ____) and “findatopdoc.com” are  preying on patients who are looking for guidance in the process.


27 thoughts on “I Am Not A "Leading Physician of the World" or How Not To Find a Cardiologist”

  1. I was wondering about the certificate as Im sitting in an office with one. My Dr is super good and deserves such recognition, but “of the world?” Not so sure. Lol. My last therapist was a “top doctor” but she wasnt even a psychologist. I usually assume its all publicity and this one seems worth it to me for her. Not all patients are dumb. Recognition awards are always subjective and I go by organizations like Doctors Without Boarders, where those are real accomplishments. My last therapist was not very good and I saw the actual interview of her “top doctor” of the area, then I wrote in my Yelp! review that she wasnt a doctor so she didnt deserve the award. Two years later, I dropped off a letter regarding my care, and noticed her awards were no longer on the wall! I did that, yes! That was paid publicity that I felt went too far. This certificate “Leading Physicians of the World” is like most additional certificates minus credentials and is almost always paid publicity. All doctors need that. Based on the prices you said, thats a pretty good deal for what doctors get. My dr is at least a family physician and does non invasive anti-aging procedures, AND she is the only physician I missed when I left the state for 3 years. Im now her patient again but finally read the certificate on the wall. Its unfortunate that so many doctors (and non doctors) have the ability to pay for non achievements. Recognition certs are 90% paid publicity.

  2. Thanks for your posting! I just received the same letter, and met it with the same high degree of skepticism, which led me to your site (after a Google search). These organizations are trying to cash in off of the egos of some physicians (or those who think it will be good for business)…

  3. Thank you for your insight, I wanted to investigate this because I just received the letter in the mail congratulating me on this honor and I’m literally a brand new Nurse Practitioner, not a doctor and I have not even worked long enough to prove myself to be called “leading”…..not sure why I got this.

  4. Just wanted to leave some thanks for posting this. I’m a dermatologist recently out of training and just received the same piece of mail. I suspected as much, but your post helped save me some time. Cheers.

  5. This a shame ! Specially when the patient is stage 4 cancer , desperate family are looking for a miracle ! These doctors are preying patients who are looking for a last hope . Where is our moral value ? Please try to enlighten the people around you about these fake resources and thank you for sharing your experience from a physician side !

  6. Thank you so much for this blog. I literally just got off the phone with “Krista Lombardo” congratulating me on being the one of the top physicians in the world. Her spiel was almost convincing until she just kept going on and on and I was waiting for the part where this would cost some money.
    She goes on to tell me about the platinum and diamond memberships and I should start with diamond. I asked her to send whatever was needed to me and after I review everything I would select which membership I wanted (I still hadn’t caught on really at this point), then she said they were in an editing process (and I had to make a decision so she could send it to the editor for publishing) and i had to make a decision immediately on the phone. So while on the phone with her I immediately went to google and found your blog. Then told her I wasn’t interested, then she went down to “gold membership” and I told let me guess, there’s a silver, bronze, copper levels as well? Ma’am no thank you. What a scam!!! I almost got GOT!

    • My pleasure! I’m glad I’ve steered so many doctors away from this scam. Interestingly, I still regularly receive letters from the “International Association of Cardiologists” offering to recognize me as a “top cardiologist.” I would think if they did a simple Google search of themselves they would realize my post is the most damning information to pop up.

  7. I am starting my internship in surgery in July and I was honored to also be selected as a top doctor! Nice to see that my awesome skills were recognized by the IAHCP (even though I didn’t match my #1)!

  8. I just received that same letter and phone call, being a top leading dentist, and it is a complete scam!!! Thanks for blogging about this and sharing the awareness of the ugly business aspect that is ruining medicine and dental medicine as well.

  9. Hi I just received the same phone call. Top addiction therapist in the world; and when I told them I have received awards before that I never had to pay for she continued to not wan’t to “see me miss out on the opportunity” I told her no and she congratulated me on the “honor” and that was it. Really people! Come on!

  10. By the way, you’re not kidding about it being hard to find a good cardiologist! How would you recommend going about it outside the USA? Any tips?
    I wasted a small fortune seeing various cardiologists who “reassured” me that my ventricular tachycardia was not dangerous, it was only a symptom of stress, and I should treat it with camomile tea. I was so lucky to find an electrophysiologist in 2008 who knew how to cure stress by catheter ablation! I’ve didn’t feel stressed again for 6 years.

    • I’ve thought a lot about how patients find good doctors in general. It’s difficult.
      In general I think doctors and cardiologists in Europe do a very good job. In comparison to American cardiologists they are less likely to rapidly jump to procedures/testing because they are not financially rewarded as much as American doctors.
      Most of the time this is good but obviously in your case the VT ablation proved to be a procedure that dramatically improved your quality of life.
      If I needed care outside the US I would first try to identify a doctor in the relevant field that I knew who might identify an expert in my area.
      Failing that if I needed specialty care I would Google the local academic experts and try to identify the one I thought most likely to be useful in that specialty area for me by evaluating their research publications and training.

  11. This is fascinating. I had the identical experience, yet it was in the field of “Top Business Leaders” who deserved to be recognised for ground-breaking achievement. Despite the fact that they “chose” me for the honour, I had to tell them exactly what my ground-breaking achievement had been.
    The sales pitch was identical and my first question was the circulation numbers of the publication, how much does it cost and who who buys it? The sales woman couldn’t say. Could I see a sample edition? Apparently not. I told her if you know abotu business, you have to put a bit of an investment into making your sales pitch effective, and showing people that publication they’re paying to advertise themseves in is fundamental. No it’s not advertising yourself, it’s an award, she insisted. No, people don’t buy awards, it is self advertising, I insisted.
    Her hard sell seemed to have no off-button and I could only get rid of her by telling her she sounded like a desperate vacuum cleaner salesman and I was no longer able to take her even 1% seriously.

    • That is fascinating. I never thought to ask those questions because I’m not truly a business person. But your question gets at the fundamental purpose of such “awards”-marketing and advertising. Personally, I abhor the effect marketing and advertising has on medicine. I wrote a little on that here.

  12. Thank you for sharing. As a student entering medical school in August, I was surprised to receive this invitation in my LinkedIn mailbox. “Dear George,” it read, “It is my pleasure to inform you that based upon your Linkedin Profile, we’ve selected you as a Top Doctor to be spotlighted in the renowned publication, The Leading Physicians of the World.” Clearly some “Top Doctors” on their website may not even be doctors.

  13. It’s telling that the Leading Physicians of the World sent me a letter that my “2015 status has been approved.” I have been retired from medicine for several years and no longer have an active license. This is clearly a scam.

  14. I just received a similar letter and was similarly skeptical. Thank you for saving me valuable time checking this out.

  15. As a patient, I want to thank you profusely for sharing this info! My family doc of 15 yrs.+ recently retired and sold his practice to a “Leading Physician of the World”. My doc kinda rolled his eyes when he told me the new guy was into the LPW. So, I was suspect. I googled LPW and found your blog. Thank you! It started an unskilled background check that raised many red flags concerning the new doc. It appears he may be very narcissistic and possibly deceitful in his presentation of himself and qualifications.
    As a result my husband and myself have found other doctors.

  16. Thanks a lot for your comments!! I have received so many letters and offers from these people that is impossible to count them any more.
    I also had a phone conversation with someone there and my experience was very similar to yours. They even have my name wrong!!! And when I told them they wanted to know my real name …that’s when I started laughing….
    Is a scam and I would also be very embarrassed to be part of anything related to those people whoever they are.

  17. I just got the letter today. A search on google lead me to your blog. Thank you for saving me a phone call.
    Your article has one little piece of inaccurate information. There are many cardiologists who are fellowship trained who do not have the FACC designation (maybe another topic you can be skeptical about).

  18. I have had a number of these types of solicitations over the years and they are usually selling a book for $100+ and other equally pricey ‘benefits’

  19. I suspect that Who’s Who is a similar scam. I tend to toss any unsolicited vanity-appealing mail, so am happy to know from your post that my suspicions were correct.


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