5 reasons to switch doctors

Don't be afraid to ask questions and shop around when choosing a family doctor. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

Don't be afraid to ask questions and shop around when choosing a family doctor. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

The relationship between doctor and patient is the most important aspect of health care. You should feel comfortable trust and communicating with your doctor, and he or she should empathize with you and plainly communicate what may be wrong. But how do you know when you should find a new physician? Look for these signs:

  • Your doctor is unresponsive. Your doctor's office should respond to your calls promptly. If you find yourself leaving numerous messages and waiting days for a response, you may need to start searching for a new physician. Also, you might start looking if your doctor requires and unneccessary visit before approving prescription refills, forcing you to go days without medication.
  • The office is disorganized. You not put up with a physician's office that regularly makes mistakes with billing, loses paperwork or overcharges you for services. Other warning signs include canceled appointments, scheduling mistakes, messages that never make it to the doctor, late refills or rude staff members.
  • Your doctor doesn't listen. One of the most important aspects of being a good physician is listening to patients with compassion, empathy and interest. If you often feel talked down to, ignored or belittled in the office, you should start a new doctor search. Your physician should listen to all your concerns with patience and interest and carefully review any information you present, including articles from the Internet or medical journals.
  • Your physician is not willing to explore your ideas. Patients should be partners in their own health care, and physicians should willingly consider their ideas. Although they may not agree, they should at least take your opinions seriously. When you voice a concern or bring up a symptom, the doctor should respond with interest and promptly explore medical causes. In the same vein, all changes in your medication should be thoroughly discussed instead of just prescribed by the doctor.
  • Your physician is more interested in selling products than your care. Unfortunately, some doctors look at their practice as a way to sell expensive products or services. If your general practitioner routinely recommends treatments that are only available through his or her practice, or regularly recommends expensive treatments, take caution. You should never see any surprises on your bill, and if there are, they should be explained immediately and adequately.

Choosing a new doctor

According to a report published in the Journal of Family Practice, 20 percent of patients changed their primary physician over a three-year study period. Finding a new doctor can be a challenge, but you can make your search easier by first checking with your insurance company for area primary care physicians in your network. Consult friends and family members and screen all potential physicians, inquiring about their education and continuing education, practice philosophy, experience and affordability. Read reviews and check their certifications on Angie's List to get an unbiased opinion and consider visiting the office before scheduling an appointment.

Taking the time to research potential physicians can ensure that you make the right choice for your needs and help ensure that you won't repeat your previous bad experience.

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