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Signs It’s Time for a New Doctor And What to Do Before You Switch

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.

doctor and patientBut 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.

For example, supposed you go to your doctor about some lingering muscle inflammation you are experiencing (aka myositis). He seems rushed and only does a cursory examination, ignoring some of the more important details you have shared. That’s a problem. Doctors should be compassionate and understanding and take the time to get the diagnosis right. After all, it’s your health on the line.

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

doctor with thumbs downIn 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?

Next Post: Barriers to Entry: The Ongoing Battle With Exercise

Prior Post: How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a Month

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  1. Jordan Baker says

    What are some tips of advice you have for finding a new doctor? I understand that there will come a time in all of our lives that we will have to find someone new. As our bodies and personalities change, so will our need for a new doctor. However, I do think that it is important to consider what you can do find the right one for you.

    • My best suggestion is to ask around (friends and family) or look for reviews online. At least that way when you try a new doctor you aren’t going in cold, with no knowledge of what they are like.

  2. Unfortunately we had to change doctors this year because the practice we had gone to didn’t accept the new insurance plan we selected this year. I’m hopeful that our new doctors will avoid the problems you mentioned above.

    • I hate that for you MB. The insurance issue is a big deal and it’s unfortunate it’s turning out this way. Too many people are not being able to keep their current doctor as was promised when the new provisions were presented.

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