There are many different reasons people decide it’s time to switch to a new doctor, whether it’s your primary care doctor, a specialist, or your child’s pediatrician. And while you might feel hesitant to end your relationship, especially if you’ve been seeing the doctor for a long time, sometimes switching to a new doctor is the best option to ensure you’re receiving the care and attention you need.
Here are some of the most common warning signs that it may be time to find a new doctor:
- Your appointments are rushed and your doctor doesn’t have time to answer your questions. Open communication and the opportunity to ask questions about your health, medications, and treatments is essential and can help lower your risk of misdiagnosis and medical errors. It might be helpful to let the doctor know you have questions you’d like to discuss when you make your appointment so he or she can book an extended amount of time for the appointment. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to look for a new doctor.
- It’s getting harder and harder to get an appointment in a timely fashion or your doctor usually runs late. While most pediatricians provide same-day appointments when your child is sick, most physicians who treat adults don’t usually offer same-day appointments. However, if it takes weeks or months to get an appointment or if you regularly find yourself sitting in the doctor’s waiting room 30 minutes or more past your appointment time, your doctor is over-extended and it’s time to find one without long wait times for appointments, especially sick care appointments.
- Your doctor only speaks in medical jargon. If your doctor only explains your health issues using complex medical terminology, it’s unlikely you’ll understand what’s going on. The first step is to let your doctor know you didn’t understand and ask for an explanation in plain English. If your doctor still insists on using technical language or acts condescending about your request, consider switching to a new doctor.
- You rarely see the doctor. Is most of your care being provided by a physician’s assistant or nurse? While these healthcare professionals are valuable members of your care team and often have more time to answer questions, they shouldn’t be your primary source of care.
- Your doctor discourages you from getting a second opinion. Your doctor should never become defensive or angry when you say you’d like to get a second opinion. Good doctors welcome another opinion and understand the value of a second opinion.
- You don’t feel you can be honest with your doctor. You need to share intimate details of your life with your doctor to ensure you get the right care, for example, your sexual history, use of alcohol and drugs, and smoking. If you feel like your doctor is judging you when you share this information or that he or she isn’t protecting your privacy and medical records appropriately, your doctor-patient relationship may not be a good fit.
- You and your doctor have different values or approaches to health. Perhaps you’d prefer to try losing weight and exercising before starting to take a medication to lower your cholesterol or want to try physical therapy before having knee surgery. If your doctor consistently insists on a more interventionist or aggressive approach than you’re comfortable with, get a second opinion. If you frequently don’t feel comfortable with your doctor’s recommendations, find a new one.
If you decide to look for a new doctor, this checklist can help you make the switch.