10 Signs That You Need a New Doctor

Doctor and patient looking at chart
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The decision to find a new doctor is actually more difficult than most of us might think. The relationship with a doctor is an intensely personal one, and it's not easy to find the right match—particularly when you're limited by geography, HMOs, and insurance.

Many people also find that they feel a bit intimidated by their physicians, and once with a doctor, don't feel they have the right to switch, or worry that they will offend the doctor.

Remember— in a doctor-patient relationship, you are the client, and the doctor is providing a service. And if that service is not meeting your needs, the best thing you can do for your health is to find the right doctor who will meet your needs.

This is especially important when you have a chronic health concern that will keep you returning to your doctor regularly. Your relationship with your doctor is the foundation of your health and well-being. The wrong doctor may make it difficult—if not impossible—to return to wellness and optimal health.

How do you know when it's time for a new doctor? Here are some signs.

Your Doctor Doesn't Respond to Calls or Faxes

Do you find yourself leaving message after message, but not getting a return call for days?

Are you ending up going several days without thyroid medicine because your doctor won't approve a refill until you make an appointment?

Your Doctor's Office Is Unresponsive, Disorganized, or Rude

Are you ending up going several days without thyroid medicine because your doctor's office hasn't called in a refill, despite your requests?

Are you finding out that the office staff members are not getting your messages to the doctor?

Are the office staff members rude on the phone or in the office?

Does the office regularly make billing mistakes, overcharge you, or lose paperwork?

Have you ever showed up for a scheduled appointment, only to be told that there's no record of your appointment?

Your Doctor Dismisses the Internet as a Source of Information

Does your doctor refuse to look at any information you bring in from the Internet?

Does your doctor think that everything on the Internet is foolish quackery, and tell you so?

Is your doctor entirely unaware that the National Library of Medicine, most major medical journals, and the literature from most professional medical organizations are on the Internet?

Your Doctor Is Unwilling to Explore Your Ideas

When you bring up a symptom or concern, does your doctor quickly assume that it's something like “age, hormones, not enough sleep” and fail to explore other medical causes?

If you request a test for a particular condition, does your doctor say “You don't have that condition,” and refuse to order a test?

If you asked for a different drug or a new drug for your condition, does your doctor usually refuse, without a reasonable explanation?

Your Doctor Is Interested in Selling Expensive Products or Services

Do you always leave your doctor's office with bottles and jars of vitamins, supplements, powders and potions, and books, videos, or other materials that set you back several hundred dollars, and that the doctor claims you can only get from him/her?

Does your doctor regularly recommend remedies that only he or she sells?

Does your doctor regularly recommend costly treatments, provided at his or her office, that are not covered by your insurance?​

Do you find surprises in your bill, and charges that you don't understand, and can't get decently explained?

Your Doctor Doesn't Listen

Does your doctor pop in and out of the examining room or office to take phone calls while you are having an appointment?

Does your doctor sit at his or her desk and read, go through mail, or type on the computer while you are having an appointment?

Do you find that your doctor is asking you the same questions over and over, indicating that he or she doesn't remember what you've said?

Your Doctor Doesn't See the Bigger Picture

Does your doctor view each appointment independently, and not remember symptoms or conditions you've had in the past?

Does your doctor fail to pull out your chart and review your history for a few moments to look for patterns in symptoms?

Do you get the feeling like your doctor has never read your chart or history?

Your Doctor Is Influenced by a Pharmaceutical Company

Does your doctor have mousepads, pens, pencils, prescription pads, calendars, mugs, patient information literature, wall charts and posters, and other paraphernalia with drug or pharmaceutical company logos plastered on them?

Does your doctor refuse to allow you to switch to competing brands of drugs, but fails to provide a rational reason other than “this drug is just better?”

Your Doctor Is Arrogant or Rude

Is your doctor one of those men or women who truly think they are “holier than thou” and act accordingly?

Does your doctor make you wait for extremely long periods of time, but never apologizes for the delays or for making you wait?

Would your doctor never say “I don't know the answer?”

Does your doctor interrupt you or act impatient when you are speaking?

Does your doctor ever talk to you in a condescending or patronizing way, as if he or she thought you weren't very bright or were a child?

Your Doctor Is Not Your Partner in Wellness

Ideally, we want our doctors to quickly diagnose and cure us, and sometimes this is the case. But there are times when your doctor may not be able to make you well. The best he or she may be able to do is help minimize symptoms, optimize your health as best as possible, or make you more comfortable given a particular condition. A doctor who is your partner in wellness will work with you to explore the situation, get the best possible diagnosis, explore treatments, fine tune treatments as necessary—working in partnership with you. A doctor who is your partner will treat you with courtesy and respect, will listen to you, and will incorporate you into the decision-making process.

Remember, of course, that there is no perfect doctor. A great doctor may have almost every quality you want, but be a bit more costly than you'd like. Or you may have the best doctor, but he or she always runs late and keeps you waiting. Or the doctor is so popular you have a 4-month waiting list for routine appointments. You can't expect perfection!

But do expect a doctor who will make his or her best effort on your behalf. You and your health deserve it.

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