10 Signs It’s Time to Find a New Doctor

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6.  Your doctor refuses to refer you to a specialist.

If you ask for a referral to a specialist, does your doctor refuse without explaining why?  Is your doctor offended if you ask for a second opinion?

7.  Your doctor views each appointment as an isolated event.

Does your doctor fail to review your chart at each appointment to refresh his memory, look for symptom patterns, and observe treatment history?  Do you get the feeling your doctor has no idea who you are?  Does your doctor treat you like a new patient, asking you the same questions you were asked at your last four appointments? 

8.  Your doctor is rude, arrogant, or inconsiderate.

Is your doctor’s attitude one of “Do what I tell you to and don’t ask questions”?  Does your doctor make you feel as if you are wasting his valuable time?  Does your doctor talk to you in a condescending or patronizing manner?  When you ask a question, does your doctor ever make you feel foolish or stupid?  Does your doctor routinely keep you in the waiting room for several hours?  Do you usually have to leave multiple messages before getting a response? 

9.  Your doctor’s staff is frequently rude or unreliable.

Are staff members rude to you in person or on the phone?  Have there been times that your messages were not given to the doctor?  Do they fail to call in prescription refills in a timely manner?  

10.  Your doctor refuses to cooperate with other health care professionals as part of your health care team.

Is your doctor unwilling to take the time to connect and compare notes with other members of your health care team (for example, specialists or physical therapists)? 

To Switch or Not to Switch

Should you look for a new doctor if even one of these signs is true of your doctor?  Not necessarily.  It depends on what characteristics are most important to you.  For example, if you’re not interested in alternative treatments, you may not care whether your doctor considers them to be quackery.  On the other hand, if you doctor doesn’t believe you’re really sick, it’s definitely time to find a new doctor. 

There is no such thing as a perfect doctor.  Personalities vary and a doctor that you love, may be intolerable to another patient.  Ultimately, the decision is yours.  Just remember that you deserve the best health care you can get.  Your doctor provides a service––health care.  You, as a consumer, are purchasing that service.  If you’re not receiving satisfactory service, you need to take your business elsewhere.    

© Karen Lee Richards

Last Updated: 4/17/09

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