In the past, we’ve written articles on choosing the right primary care provider. Now, we’re addressing the flip-side of finding a good medical match: how to determine when it’s time to leave your primary care doctor for a better fit. Many times unhappy patients stay with a doctor because they don’t want to deal with the hassle or they are worried about finding a suitable replacement.
However, finding a family doctor who is the right fit for you and your family is crucial to maintaining good health. It’s time to start looking for a new physician if you are experiencing:
- Personality Differences
It’s ok to have some disagreements with your primary care physician or specialist, but when there are fundamental differences in you and your physician’s approach to health care then you may not be able to build an effective patient-physician relationship. While neither the patient or the physician are necessarily to blame in this situation, patients may be better served by finding the type of doctor with whom they can relate more easily.
- Long Waits, Short Examinations
If you feel that your physician doesn’t respect your time, you should look for a doctor who does. When patients spend long hours in the waiting room and a mere 15 minutes in the examination room, a physician is not valuing their patient’s time or providing the best care possible by taking the time to listen to their health concerns. If your doctor is chronically late or behind schedule, you may want to look around for a doctor who runs on time and holds unhurried appointments.
- The Cold Shoulder
Patients have a right to know about their care, and they should never feel like they are uninformed about their own health. Does your doctor blow you off when you ask a question? Does he or she take the time to explain your care in a way that you can understand? If you are feeling confused or left in the dark, you may want to find a physician who takes the time to educate you.
- The Blow-Off
This issue can be related to the rush appointments outlined in #2. If your doctor can’t listen to your concerns without interrupting you, or if you feel that he or she does not take the time to answer your questions, obviously there is a communication issue. When it comes to health, there is too much at stake for you to feel that your physician can’t (or won’t) hear your concerns.
- Unprofessional Office Staff
Those behind the office desk are an important “link” between you and the physician. If the receptionists fail to convey messages from a physician or make scheduling an appointment a headache you may want to consider finding a friendlier experience elsewhere.
- Sloppy Mistakes
Physicians are busy – very busy. That doesn’t excuse medical mistakes. If your doctor prescribes you a medication that you are allergic to, or makes another sloppy mistake you should find a physician who is more careful.
- Bad Care Coordination
Your primary care physician is the crucial link between you and the rest of your healthcare team, including specialists, surgeons, and other medical care providers. If your physician or his office is not keeping track of your health concerns and advising you about his recommendations and your treatment options, you are missing a critical piece of your care team.
- Difficulty Getting in Touch
A good doctor is available for follow-up appointments, questions, and emergency situations. You need to know that in the case of an emergency your physician will be available to help provide valuable medical information. If you have difficulty reaching your physician or scheduling an appointment, you may want to look for a more reliable doctor.
- Rude Behavior
Rude or condescending behavior should not be tolerated. If your current doctor trivialized your concerns, mocks you, or treats you with disregard you should move on. Patients have to be willing to trust their doctors with intimate information, and there’s no way you can establish a personal connect with a physician who can’t even treat you with respect.
While some of these signs are harder to spot or qualify than others, many patients know when their physician isn’t a good match. Go with your gut instinct. The next time your physician is unavailable for an appointment or blows you off during an appointment don’t feel guilty about firing them. There are a number of excellent primary care physicians out there who are more than willing to be your partner in good health.