How to Fire Your Doctor and Find a New One

No one likes to find themselves at odds with their doctor or another healthcare provider. It does happen, though.

Maybe you don't like their personality or demeanor. Perhaps they have mismanaged or misdiagnosed your health problems, or you don't see eye-to-eye on treatment approaches.

Upset patient sitting across a desk from a doctor

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Regardless of the reason, firing your doctor isn't easy, but it is sometimes your best option.

This article can help you try to build a better relationship with your doctor, and, if you do decide to get a new one, prevent complications and make a smooth transition.

Consider Repairing Your Relationship

If you feel it's worth trying to fix the relationship with your doctor before you fire them, talk to them about your concerns and clearly articulate why they are problematic for you.

Suggest positive steps they could take to improve.

For example, say you don't feel like your doctor listens to you. Think about what has made you feel like this. Do they dismiss what you say? Talk over you? Fail to make eye contact while you talk?

Giving them concrete, actionable feedback: "I'd feel more heard if you let me talk without interrupting" is more useful than saying, "You're not a good listener."

If they're receptive, give them time to make changes. Also be sure that you give them a chance to clear up any misunderstandings.

If they're not receptive, or if the problem is something they can't fix, you may be right about needing to leave.

Don't Burn Bridges

Especially if you don't have a lot of doctors to choose from in your area, try to separate amicably from your old doctor. An ugly argument could make it awkward if you have to see or contact this doctor again for some reason.

Find a New Doctor First

You've decided you need a new doctor. The next step is to find a new doctor before breaking the news to the current one so you're not caught without care.

It may take months to get in with a new physician. That's especially true for specialists.

Not having a doctor can be a real problem if you:

  • Need prescription refills
  • Have a new problem
  • Need a referral

You can search for the new one in multiple ways:

  • Get a list of covered providers from your health insurance.
  • Ask friends, family, coworkers, or other medical practitioners for recommendations.
  • Check online ratings.

When you gather some names, call their office to ask some initial questions that might help you gauge if they are a good fit and can take you on as a patient. For example, if you have insurance, ask if they accept your plan. If you need evening appointments, see if they offer them.

Then, set up an introductory appointment with the doctor you're considering switching to. During it, you can ask more specific questions related to whatever is prompting you to look for a new provider.

For example, if you're interested in a doctor who is open to incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into your care, ask whether or not they are open to that and have experience with it.

The entire purpose of this visit is to give you a chance to see if the new doctor is a better match for you.

Once you've selected a practitioner, get copies of your medical records or have them sent to the new office ahead of time (if the staff isn't handling this for you).

Schedule a Final Visit

Once you've seen your new doctor and are happy with your choice, schedule a final visit with the old doctor.

Talk to them about where things stand with:

  • Treatments
  • Pending diagnoses
  • Recent bloodwork
  • Anything else that may be a loose end

That will help keep things from falling through the cracks.

Also, ask them for prescription refills that will last until you're able to get them from the new doctor.

Notifying Your Doctor

At that final appointment, it's your choice whether to discuss your reasons for leaving. You certainly don't have to. But your feedback may help bring ways patients can be better served to a doctor's attention.

If you choose to have this discussion, it can be done in person or during a phone appointment. Or if you're more comfortable telling your doctor your reasons for leaving in a letter, email, or message through a secure patient portal, then do it that way.

Anger and frustration can easily make their way into such an exchange. Be conscious of your word choices, tone, and demeanor so that you can express yourself clearly and professionally.

Summary

If you do find yourself unhappy with your doctor, you have every right to ask for changes. If you don't see positive change, consider finding someone new.

It's best to find a new doctor before leaving the old one. That way, you're not caught without a doctor while awaiting your first appointment.

An introductory appointment can help you see whether this doctor is a better fit. If so, schedule a final visit with your old doctor.

Use the final visit to tie up loose ends. You may also want to discuss your reason for leaving. Or you might want to send something in writing.

A Word From Verywell

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you don't have interruptions in your care. Those can have a detrimental impact on your health, especially if you have chronic conditions.

Everyone deserves medical care they're happy and comfortable with. Don't be afraid to make a change if you think it's in your best interest.

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