Your doctor doesn’t return your calls, answer your questions or treat you with respect. When is it time to find a new doctor?
Two days have passed and your doctor still hasn’t returned your call. Last week, you called the office for test results after hearing nothing … and you found out the lab report had been just sitting there.
Sometimes, it’s best to overlook a small misunderstanding, insensitive remark or oversight by your doctor or the office staff. Was it just a bad day? Or has this happened before?
Breaking up is hard to do when it’s your doctor. You may like your doctor as a person, yet lack confidence in the quality of your care. Starting over and finding a new doctor you like takes work.
If you have a fairly good relationship or have been with the doctor for some time, it is worth trying to address a minor problem instead of just leaving the practice. Other times, the problem is serious or recurring. That’s when you owe it to yourself and your family to find a new doctor. Professional care and considerate treatment are your due.
It’s about you
Speak up if you are unhappy with your care. Talk frankly with your doctor about your concerns or consider changing providers if:
- You’re not comfortable with your doctor. You need to feel you can talk freely to your doctor about personal issues like bladder control or sexual problems. If your styles and personalities don’t click, then move on.
- The office is not well managed or professional. Your records are lost. A receptionist is rude. Calls aren’t returned. You don’t receive timely notices about test results.
- The doctor does not take your symptoms seriously or doubts your pain. Your concerns and questions are brushed off. You feel as if you are rushed out of the office.
- Your doctor “dictates” health care and doesn’t include you in decisions. You’re not given reasons for his or her recommendations or offered any options.
- Your doctor makes a serious treatment error, neglects recommended screenings or often seems distracted or forgetful during your visits.
- You’ve lost trust in your doctor’s knowledge or skills. He or she seems careless or is unwilling to find out more about a new procedure or test you’ve read about.
- You’re not treated with respect. A doctor or nurse makes an unkind or insensitive comment. You are often kept waiting in the office with no explanation or apology.
- The doctor becomes annoyed if you want to get a second opinion or you ask to see a specialist. Your concerns are discounted.
- Your doctor violates a boundary. This could be an inappropriate touch or a personal question not related to your health care.
- Your doctor criticizes you or blames you for your condition. Patients do better when a doctor is encouraging and supportive.
Having an open talk with your doctor can help to resolve some issues that might simply be misunderstandings. If not, don’t settle for inferior care or an uncaring attitude. To avoid a confrontation, you can mail a request asking the office to release your medical records and forward them to your new doctor’s address. There are usually many other good doctors in your area to choose from.
Changing doctors takes some effort. It’s in your best interests, though, to find a doctor you trust and respect.