Reasons for Switching Doctors

Some lucky people have established a lifetime relationship with their healthcare providers. They have gotten to know their healthcare providers well, they have a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, and they would never consider changing healthcare providers. Other people are not so lucky. Sometimes, the decision to change healthcare providers is dictated by outside influences rather than personal choice.

Doctor shaking hands with patient
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Valid Reasons to Consider Switching Healthcare Providers

There are myriad reasons you might consider changing healthcare providers:

  • You and your family are moving to a new location that is too far away from your current healthcare provider.
  • Your insurance company no longer contracts with your current healthcare provider. This is actually as much a reason to change insurance companies as it is to change healthcare providers. If you are satisfied with your healthcare provider's care, you may choose to review your insurance for changes instead.
  • Your life choices force you to make a change. Getting married and choosing your new spouse's health insurance over your own, or divorcing your spouse may require you to find a new healthcare provider.
  • Your healthcare provider's practice is closing, or your healthcare provider is moving his/her practice. Healthcare providers retire, change careers, lose their licenses, are denied malpractice insurance, and even pass away, forcing patients to find an alternative.
  • It is not unheard of that healthcare providers will "fire" a patient. Sometimes the relationship is so difficult that neither the healthcare provider nor patient is satisfied with it. The healthcare provider may be the first one to identify a problem in the relationship, and you may be left without a healthcare provider.
  • You have a medical problem that requires a second opinion. In this case, you won't necessarily change healthcare providers; you just need another healthcare provider to look at your medical situation more closely.
  • You come to the realization that "nice" and "good bedside manner" don't necessarily equal competent. You may be reluctant to change, but feel you could get better care elsewhere.
  • You get an uneasy feeling from the healthcare provider. It may be tough to pinpoint, but if a healthcare provider makes you feel at all uncomfortable, trust that feeling and make a change. From substance abuse problems to an inability to control anger to bad habits, to problems with hygiene—you may not even be able to pinpoint the problem, but whatever it is, it will never seem right to you.
  • You have a feeling that another healthcare provider would communicate better, respect you more, or partner with you more effectively. This is as good a reason as any to seek a new healthcare provider. Mutual trust and respect are very important between a healthcare provider and patient. From not managing your expectations well, to using med-speak, to failing to provide test results or other feedback, patients can get frustrated with communication problems. That's plenty of reason to change healthcare providers.

On the other hand, if you are considering making a change, don't take the decision lightly. You and your healthcare provider have both invested in the relationship, and such a change will not be easy for either of you. The time, paperwork, and details will need to be sorted out.

Once you've decided that changing healthcare providers is the right thing to do, you'll want to follow recommendations for making sure the change works smoothly. It's wise to establish a new relationship by making the transition before an emergency or major health difficulty.

By Trisha Torrey
 Trisha Torrey is a patient empowerment and advocacy consultant. She has written several books about patient advocacy and how to best navigate the healthcare system.