Whenever you’re sick, or simply seeking routine preventive care, you trust your doctor to provide good medical care. Most people trust their doctors implicitly. After all, they went through years of training and have to know their stuff in order to practice medicine.
But just because a doctor has the knowledge required to diagnose and treat patients doesn’t mean that they are good at their jobs. They may lack bedside manner or time management skills, which can lead to long waits and frustration. Other doctors aren’t willing to explore alternative treatment options, or can’t clearly explain their diagnoses and treatment plans.
With health care costs on the rise, there’s a renewed focus on quality in health care and ensuring that patients receive the care they deserve without wasting time and money.
However, as a patient, you hold a certain level of responsibility for the quality you receive as well. You have the right to seek other options when you aren’t happy with your care, not to mention that staying with a doctor who isn’t meeting your needs can be harmful to your health — and your wallet.
So when is it time to switch providers? There are some clear signs.
Sign #1: Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen
Good doctors listen to their patients — and pay as much attention to what isn’t said as well as what is. But if you feel like your doctor doesn’t listen to you, then it may be time for a new one.
Not making eye contact, ignoring or dismissing your concerns, or making mistakes that could be easily avoided had they actually paid attention are all clues that your doctor isn’t totally on your side. Failure to listen can actually lead to serious errors, so if you feel like you’re not being heard, find someone who will listen.
Sign #2: Your Doctor Doesn’t Respect Your Time
With the increase in the number of people who have access to health care, it’s becoming more challenging to see a doctor. When you do arrive at the office, it’s common to wait well past the scheduled appointment time. But how long is too long to wait?
Every doctor’s office has days when staff falls behind. If you’re consistently left waiting long after your appointment time and left hanging in exam rooms while the staff deals with other patients, you may need to find someone else.
Sign #3: You Don’t Connect on Treatment Plans
In today’s medical environment, there’s a growing respect for nontraditional medicine, and many doctors are recommending complementary treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic or massage in addition to traditional medicine.
While you should never assume to know more than your physician based on an Internet search or what a friend says, your doctor should respect your opinions and be willing to discuss all of the possible treatment options. If your doctor doesn’t consider your concerns, or you want to explore treatments that your doctor dismisses, you may be better off finding a doctor who is more in tune with your beliefs.
Sign #4: Your Doctor Isn’t Clear
You are in control of your health and your medical care. You have a right to know as much as possible about your health, your treatments, and any tests that your doctor orders. If he or she orders tests, prescribes a medication, or does anything that you don’t understand, it’s your right to ask questions and get clear answers.
If your doctor doesn’t answer them clearly — or at all — then find someone who will respect you as a partner in your good health.
Sign #5: You Just Don’t Like Your Doctor
Doctors are often rushed and under pressure, and as a result, may not always have time for a lengthy chat about the weather or other unrelated subjects.
Nevertheless, it’s still important for him or her to be polite. If you’re put off by your doctor’s blunt or direct manner, and it upsets you, working with someone a little gentler is in your best interests.
Before You Cut Ties
Just as you wouldn’t quit your job before having another one lined up, you shouldn’t leave your doctor before having someone else in place to handle your care. Have a conversation with your doctor before you leave, and explain why you’re changing providers. He or she may appreciate the feedback. Also request to have your records sent to the new doctor (the law says that doctors must do this) and leave on good terms.
Changing doctors might feel awkward, but you have a right to quality health care that you’re comfortable with, and that meets all of your needs.
Questions: Have you ever switched doctors based on any of these issues? What do you appreciate and not appreciate about your current doctor? How long do you have to typically wait at the doctors office before receiving care? What other issues or concerns should be addressed when changing doctors?
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