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What To Do If You Are Considering Switching Doctors


It can be emotionally difficult to change doctors. There is a certain security in working with the doctor who has seen you through to this point. Or you may be concerned about hurting the doctor's feelings. It takes your time and energy to change doctors. It can also be expensive. For example, there may be additional co-pays and repeat testing. 

Still, there are times when a change is the right thing to do for your health -- and your life. Of course, there may not be a choice if a doctor stops accepting your current insurance plan.  

When To Consider Switching Doctors. Consider switching if any of the following occur:

  • The doctor orders tests before she has spent time with you (except when you have a chronic condition and tests are ordered ahead of time to be read at your visit). To learn more, see How To Prepare For Each Visit With Your Doctor.
  • The doctor is not a specialist in your illness and you can get to one that is.
  • You've lost confidence, particularly if the doctor has made serious errors with respect to you or other patients.
  • There are constant scheduling problems.
  • The doctor makes sexual advances.
  • Your doctor doesn't touch you. Physical exams tell a doctor a lot.
  • Communication problems continue no matter how you've tried to fix them.
  • You disagree philosophically about matters that are important to you and it's affecting the care you want.
  • You move.
  • There is a change such as the doctor sells her practice, leaves a group practice, retires or dies.

Before you switch doctors, consider the following:

  • Do not switch doctors impulsively. The dealbreaker should be: does the doctor meet your reasonable needs? If not, then start looking around.
  • Your current doctor's feelings don't matter. You wouldn't keep any other professional on board if you weren't satisfied with the relationship. 
  • Ask whether your own expectations are reasonable. For example, if you require that a doctor take your phone calls right away, at any time of the day, then you have to expect that your own office visits will probably be interrupted two or three times when other patients call. Is that how you want your doctor to behave?
  • See if things can be worked out between the two of you. For more information about this subject, see How To Handle Bumps In The Road.
  • Understand that switching doctors will likely be time consuming. There may also be a cost involved such as paying for copies of your records for the new doctor.  

If you decide to switch doctors, see How To Switch Doctors.

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