Is this doctor right for me?
It’s a question you may find yourself asking after leaving your physician’s office after a less-than-satisfactory experience. But how do you know if it was just one bad appointment or time to ditch your doctor?
“It’s important to have a doctor who is not only accessible but attentive to your needs,” clinical nurse specialist Alice Benjamin tells Newsmax Health.
Here are five signs that you may need a new doctor.
Disrespectful of your time: If you frequently spend more time in the waiting room than with your doctor it might be time to consider a change. You shouldn't have to wait more than an hour to see your physician only to feel like you're being rushed out the door once you're in the exam room.
“Many times doctors rely on you, your medical records and their memory of what’s worked and not worked for you. If a doctor is bogged down and overloaded with too many patients, that may put you at greater risk for harm,” says Benjamin, former AARP Affordable Care Act advisor.
“Many disease processes can present vaguely and many with similar symptoms. It is critical that you have enough face time with your doctor to express what you’re feeling and for them to ask the necessary question to rule in or out different diagnoses.”
If your doctor doesn't take the time to hear your concerns then it's time to consider a switch. If you're considering a new doctor, do a little research on his/her wait times beforehand.
“A rush for time could lead to a rush to judgement leading to medical errors – the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths. The delayed proper identification of a medical condition (or worsening of it) will lead to delayed treatment, which could mean life or death for you,” Benjamin says.
Poor communication: A good doctor is one who explains why they're recommending a certain course of treatment or medical test for you. Patients should know why they're having certain services and procedures done and what they mean. Your doctor should share test results with you in terms that are easily understandable and should listen to you as you ask questions, without interruption. If your doctor is rude or condescending it's also probably time to part ways.
"It all comes down to communication and whether you feel like you're asking questions and they're not being answered," says Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
It’s often a good idea to write down a list of questions before your appointment so nothing slips through the cracks.
Lack of professionalism: When choosing a doctor, you're not just picking a physician you like, you're picking their office staff too. If the office staff or receptionist is rude or blows you off, or forgets to give your message to your doctor, you could be putting your health at risk.
Another sign of professionalism to look for: Are the waiting room and front desk area clean and tidy? A dirty, cluttered office is probably not one you want to trust your health to. A rude office staff or unhygienic office may indicate that it's time to hunt elsewhere for a doctor.
Something's just not right. Usually when you have that unexplained gut feeling that something just isn’t right, it isn’t. Go with your gut – it’s trying to tell you something. A sense of unease about your doctor, even if you can't pinpoint what it is, may mean it's time to switch physicians.
Poor coordination of care: Your primary care physician should manage each step of your healthcare, including coordinating with other doctors. Included in that care is keeping track of instructions from specialists. Failure to coordinate the care of multiple specialists could negatively and egregiously harm you physically.
Before breaking up with your doctor officially you might want to have a discussion about why you’re choosing to leave the practice. Most physicians will appreciate the courtesy and will hopefully use your feedback to implement changes.
If you do decide it’s the last straw, make sure you have already found a new doctor before you call it quits.
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