Why would you leave your doctor? Let me count the ways:
Are you sick and tired of the hassles your doctor and/or his office put you through? Fed up with the communication breakdowns, the lack of bedside manner, or the errors from your doctor or his staff, including billing? Has your doctor gone high-tech and forgotten common sense, or the human touch? Perhaps their lingo is medical mojo.—Fine. But if I don’t understand it, educate me. Someone spent time educating you, Dr. Smarty Pants (Or is it Dr. Can’t be bothered?)
It’s your right to know what they are saying about you. You are a member on your medical team. Are you informed about your test results? Are your office visits rushed? I understand doctors are busy—so are many of their patients. Even if it looks like all we do is go to the doctors,—two doctor appointments can take all day long. How long do you wait to see your doctor?
Some people are afraid to get a second opinion, or to leave a doctor they’ve been with.
When I was diagnosed, I went for a second opinion. I stayed with the second surgical oncologist. After my first appointment with my oncologist (different from surgical oncologist), I left the appointment knowing it wasn’t a good fit. I called before my second appointment to ask for a transfer to another doctor. I’m happy I did. From that point on, I kept—and loved my medical team. Well. . . until three years into it. Then I left my reconstruction surgeon, and my only regret is that I hadn’t done so two years earlier. With the latter two changes, I remained at the same office for my medical care.
Some suggest talking to the administrative staff if you have issues with the doctor. I don’t agree with that, but I see where it could be less intimidating for some people. From what I hear and see, the staff speak too freely and in ear shot. They have no reason to be loyal to you, the patient. It’s not their medical license up for review.
Regarding my complaint over much larger implants than expected, a physician assistant replied, “I’m not going to tell [the surgeon] that!” Because my after surgery complaint was not passed on, I waited for my next appointment to ask, “Why am I larger than the implants being replaced? That was an agreed upon size.” In my case, I’d gone to someone other than the doctor, and they were afraid to tell the doctor my complaint!
Have you ever been forgotten in the exam room? I have. In waiting rooms, I now sit where the receptionist can see me. In the exam room, I pop my head out if I’m in there more than 15 minutes.
If surveys are sent to you, fill them out. You can do it anonymously, if you want.
If you do change doctors, by law, you are entitled to take your medical records with you. This September, patients should be able to get them electronically, too.
Consider leaving your doctor if:
- If your questions aren’t answered, or they’re not answered in a way you understand.
Bring someone with you to the appointments if you’re having some trouble, and then you can decide if it’s you—stressed out, tired, hearing problems, or your doctor’s issue.
- If your questions are faced with dismissal.
I show up with my yellow pad of paper. I’ve thought out questions before my appointment, and as things arise between appointments, I write them down on my pad of paper. Only one doctor has visibly shown dread with this. The office packed with patients, the doctor in fast speed robo-mode, and after my waiting one-and-a-half hours to be seen, I expected some answers. Five minutes later (this includes the time for pleasantries and the exam), the doctor went for the door handle. My list on my lap, I said, “Ohh nooo. I have questions for you.” The answers I got equated to a pat on the head and “We’re not there yet” which translated to (as always, I’m too busy for a patient to have a meltdown. I can’t answer the long version of those questions.)
- If the doctor seems offended that you want a second opinion—keep walking.
It is common place for patients to get second opinions, and health insurance usually covers them.
Before you go to any doctor, make sure they are board certified, or board-eligible if they’re just out of medical school. If you have a doctor, and not sure they’re board certified, you can check at www.certificationmatters.org or call (866) 275-2267.
Remember, you are also on your medical team. Sometime it comes down to chemistry. Other times, the doctor/patient relationship changes. Don’t stay out of loyalty if something is wrong.
It’s for your health.