When To Switch Doctors

Doctors are human beings. They have feelings and they have emotions…just like their patients. There are many doctors out there giving all sorts of care. Some are great doctors but have a hard time being a nice person. Some are great human beings, but are not the best clinicians. Some have fabulous bedside manner, putting you at ease immediately, while others have the personality of a frog. Being nice and having a good bedside manner is important but doesn’t necessarily equate to being competent. The bottom line is to choose a doctor you feel comfortable with. There is NO reason to ever go to a doctor who makes you feel uncomfortable. Of course, depending on where you live and which health care providers your insurance covers, there may only be a handful of care providers to choose from. If that is the case, you may have to forgo bedside manner for expertise.

The average health care consumer selects a doctor with the expectation of having a good relationship with him or her.  You want a doctor who will listen to you. Who will show compassion to you. Spend time with you. Have a passion for your life. You will share intimate details of your life with this doctor. You will be examined and probed while undressed by this doctor. In order to sustain such an intimate relationship, there must be a level of trust and comfort. When that trust or comfort becomes tainted, it is hard to maintain the relationship. If that happens, you will need to decide if you can tolerate the lack of comfort, if you are the source of the discomfort, if you can repair the damaged relationship or if you need to move on to another practitioner.

If you have ascertained that the problem is not your fault, and the problem truly lies within the doctor’s realm, there is probably nothing to be repaired. You will have to assess your tolerance level in such a scenario. If you determine that the relationship is just too hard to bear and not worth fixing, you may want to change doctors.

Examples of reasons why you might want to change doctors include:

  • the doctor and or office staff are consistently rude or condescending
  • your visits are rushed and you feel that you are being ignored
  • the staff makes you feel ignorant or incompetent
  • you feel the doctor has no real passion for your life
  • your requests for the latest technology or procedures are denied
  • the doctor doesn’t pay attention to what you are saying
  • the doctor or staff refuse to answer your questions
  • your dignity isn’t maintained during the examination
  • your privacy and confidentiality are not maintained

How to Change?

If your health insurance is being managed through a PPO or HMO, you will need to look in the directory for a listing of other doctor’s you may visit within the insurance network. If you are not restricted by your insurance company, you may find a new doctor in a variety of ways. You can call your local American Medical Association (A.M.A.) chapter or local hospital for referrals. Better yet, get referrals from people you meet. Feel free to make an appointment to interview a prospective doctor. This is done all the time. Of course, you will probably have to pay for their time, but it may be well worth the effort and the cost in order to find a doctor who will meet your needs.

How Do I Get My Records:

You are entitled to access to your medical records. You should ask the doctor’s office for a copy of all of your records. They will not always give those directly to you, but they will be responsible for sending them to your new doctor. Your new doctor will make arrangements to obtain those records on your behalf. On some occasions, you may be asked to come and pick them up, but usually, they will be sent directly from one doctor to another.

If the doctor’s office asks you why you are seeing another doctor (which they probably won’t ask), just tell them the truth. Perhaps your candor will serve as a change agent and make it better for the other patients in the practice. You can always tell them you desire a 2nd opinion if that is less stressful for you.

Do not be embarrassed to switch doctors when the one you are currently using is not meeting all of your needs. It happens every day. Be assertive and proactive for yourself. You have a voice…use it!

Anecdote:

My sister had 3 children and used a Pediatrician for years that she adored. The doctor was warm and caring and a great clinician. Unfortunately, the doctor’s staff were not so nice. In fact, they were out and out rude. After expressing her distress to the doctor, nothing seemed to change. She ultimately was forced to leave the practice because she could not tolerate how apathetic and rude the doctor’s staff were to her on a continual basis. She had a voice and she used it!

 

” Doctor-Patient Relationship ” – 8:14 minutes

” Do You Trust Doctors? ” – 3:08 minutes

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