Top Doctors 2016: Survey Methodology

By Seattle magazine staff January 20, 2016

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Seattle magazine’s Top Doctors 2016 list was created in collaboration with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a health care research and information company founded in 1992 by a former medical college board chair and president to help guide consumers to America’s top doctors and top hospitals. Castle Connolly’s established survey and research process, under the direction of a medical doctor, involves more than 100,000 online nominations received annually from physicians across the United States, including the Seattle metro area.

Castle Connolly’s physician-led team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels. Its online nominations process—located at—is open to all licensed physicians in America who are able to nominate physicians in any American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) board-certified specialty and in any part of the country, as well as indicate whether the nominated physician is, in their opinion, among the best in their region in their medical specialty or among the best in the nation in their medical specialty. Careful screening of doctors’ educational and professional experience is essential before the final selection is made among those physicians most highly regarded by their peers.

The result: Castle Connolly identifies the top doctors in America and provides you, the consumer, with detailed information about their education, training and special expertise in its paperback guides, national and regional magazine “Top Doctors” features and online directories.

This year, again in conjunction with Seattle magazine, Castle Connolly additionally opened up the nomination survey process to all licensed physicians in 66 specialty areas in the region from January 1, 2015 to October 20, 2015. With the support of the magazine and marketing staffs at all the respective hospitals in the Seattle metro area, Castle Connolly garnered 15,422 nominations—an average of nearly 13 nominations cast by each participant. This added process enabled Castle Connolly to enhance its existing processes and arrive at the list of top doctors for this feature. Doctors selected for the feature must have primary offices located in one of the four counties that comprise the magazine’s market—King, Kitsap, Pierce or Snohomish counties.

Based on the nominations process, Castle Connolly had more than 1,000 identified Top Doctors in this area. However, due to space limitations, it further selected an “elite subset” to appear in this issue, based on considerations of numbers of nominations and professional activities. Added to that was a focus on appropriate distribution of medical specialties to reflect the differences in the numbers of physicians in various medical specialties with regard to geography and hospital affiliations.

Seattle magazine made every effort to contact all providers on the list to double-check the listing information. In addition to Castle Connolly’s review of state licensure, as an added measure, Seattle magazine also verified at press time that all the professionals listed were in good standing with the Washington State Department of Health.

Be sure to exercise due diligence in selecting a doctor: Visit Washington’s Department of Health ( for the most up-to-date information, including a health care provider’s license status and any restrictions or disciplinary actions. Please note: DOH records do not include malpractice settlements or criminal convictions unless they resulted in an action. Another place to learn about practitioners is through Healthgrades (

While our list is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. There are many well-qualified providers who are not included. Additionally, Castle Connolly’s list is limited to those practitioners whom patients can generally select; emergency room and anesthesiology specialists are not included.

The doctors on this list have been nominated by their peers; Seattle magazine is not endorsing these doctors. Physicians selected for inclusion in Seattle magazine’s Top Doctors feature may also appear as Regional Top Doctors online at, or in association with other Castle Connolly Top Doctors digital and/or print products. Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors or as Seattle magazine Top Doctors.


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