For whatever reason — be it a difference of opinion or personality — sometimes you and your doctor just don’t click, making your health care even more stressful than it already is. The decision to change doctors can be difficult to make, especially if you’ve been with your doctor for a long time and developed an intimate relationship with them. But if you’re experiencing some of these warning signs, it can ultimately have an impact on your health, and so it might be time to consider making a change. Here are 10 signs that it may be time to switch doctors.
10. It’s Difficult to Schedule an Appointment
Being able to see your doctor when you need to is important. A lack of availability can mean your doctor has too large of a patient load, which means you miss out on valuable face time, even in those instances when you manage to get in an appointment. A doctor who is inaccessible is keeping you from the quality health care you deserve.
9. Wait Times Are Exceptionally Long
While everyone has to wait before seeing their doctor, unusually long wait times can be a red flag. Say you go in for your scheduled appointment, and you find every seat in the waiting room is filled. After a significant wait, you finally get into a room, but your doctor spends as little time as possible with you before being ushered to the next appointment. These signs can indicate that your time is not being respected, and that profits are being prioritized over people. Don’t lose a day waiting to see your doctor. Try to find one who won’t always keep you waiting.
8. Getting Test Results Takes Forever
It’s only reasonable for patients to want their test results back in a timely manner. While a doctor’s time is valuable, so is yours. Your doctor’s responsibilities include getting back to you with your results. If they are consistently unable to do this, don’t be afraid to look for a doctor who will be able to get back to you in a timely fashion.
7. There Are Too Many Medical Errors
Nobody’s perfect, including doctors. But if your doctor is regularly making medical errors or misdiagnosing you, then you need to re-evaluate your situation. There are plenty of doctors out there who are well-educated, experienced, and will work hard to avoid making routine mistakes.
6. Your Doctor Doesn’t Seem To Take You Seriously
If your doctor always seems to be underestimating your sickness or the intensity of your symptoms — basically, they don’t think you’re as sick as you say — then find a doctor who will listen to you. Having a doctor who will acknowledge and appropriately respond to what you tell them is crucial to quality health care, and should be an important priority.
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5. Your Doctor Dismisses Alternative Sources of Information
Doctors have spent years honing their craft, and often, their assessments can be taken at face value. However, medicine is constantly evolving, and you don’t want a doctor who is closed-minded to new and different ideas. If your doctor dismisses alternative therapies and treatments or refuses to talk to you about information you found online, find a doctor who is willing to listen, acknowledge, and discuss such things with you.
4. Your Doctor Won’t Give you a Referral
It’s OK to want a second opinion or see a specialist for a particular problem. Primary care doctors are supposed to be one part of your health care team; they may not always have the specific answers you need. If your doctor refuses to give you a referral and routinely downplays the idea of a second opinion, then the real issue might be about pride, and pride won’t get you better. Consider seeing someone else.
3. You Feel Like Your Doctor or Their Staff Is Rude
No one wants to see a physician who is condescending or who makes them feel stupid. And a curt or rude staff can get in the way of you getting the best care — it can make seeing the doctor an unpleasant experience that causes you to put off treatment. While there may be some reasons that a person might come across as rude — they may be busy and short on time — that doesn’t give anyone the right to be disrespectful. Find a doctor who values you as a patient with a staff that sincerely wants to help you.
2. You Don’t Understand Your Diagnosis or Treatment Options
It’s your doctor’s obligation to spell out your diagnosis and possible treatments. If your doctor doesn’t give you all the necessary information or, worse, gives it to you in medical speak that you can’t even begin to understand, find a doctor who will communicate better. You need all the information before making an informed decision about your health.
1. You Don’t Seem To Be Getting Better
Sometimes treatments take time and patience. But unless it appears you have a chronic condition, if you’re following a treatment plan that doesn’t seem to be working and you perpetually remain sick, go to another physician. Your doctor is supposed to work with you and explore every avenue toward improving your health. If nothing is changing and your doctor insists on giving your treatment more time, get a second opinion.
Having to find a new doctor who you don’t know can seem daunting, but if you are experiencing these warning signs, it could ultimately be for your own benefit. Your health is your top priority, and there are plenty of capable doctors out there who can respect your time while also giving you the care that you need.