10 Signs it's Time to Change Your Doctor (and How to Make the Switch) — Thrive Family Medicine | Physicians in Greenville, SC (2023)

Is your doctor just not doing it for you? Maybe they can’t answer your specific questions. Maybe their treatment plans seem outdated. Maybe you can’t even quite put your finger on it, but there’s something about them you just. don’t. like.

So, if you’ve been in the waiting room for about 45 minutes now and you Googled “Should I change doctors?” and found this article, great news! We’ve made this list of 10 signs it’s time to change physicians and 6 steps for a smooth transition. Sorry it’s kind of long, but hey, at least we’re thorough and it’ll give you something to focus on as you round out a full hour of waiting.)

Signs You Need to Change Your Doctor

#1. If Your Doctor is Only Focused on Themselves

If your doctor routinely interrupts you or otherwise turns the appointment around to talk about themselves (or their friends and family) almost exclusively, breaking up with them to find a doctor who can stay focused on you and your needs is probably wise.

#2. If You Can’t Communicate with Your Physician

Poor patient-doctor communication can come in many forms:

Medical things can be confusing (and maybe even surprising), and you likely don’t have the same degree your physician does, so you’re bound to need some clarification at some point. If you’re unable to have a discussion with your physician where you both ultimately end up on the same page, they aren’t a good fit for you.

#3. If Your Doctor Has No Respect for Your Time

Scheduling an appointment to see a specialist is one thing, but you should not have to wait weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks and weeks) to see your primary care physician. If you consistently have a difficult time getting an appointment when you need one, or you never seem to progress past the answering machine, you might want to consider changing to a doctor you actually get to see.

Similarly, once you finally get your appointment, do you seem to spend more time in the waiting room than with your physician? Long wait times can be worth it if you know you’re going to get the care and attention you deserve once you’re actually face-to-face with your doctor, but an hour wait just for your doctor to only half-listen to you before just shove a prescription your way as they head out the door should have you looking for the exit permanently.

#4. If Your Physician is “Prescription-Happy”

Surprise – prescriptions aren’t always the right answer. Medications can certainly provide life-changing treatments in many situations, but that doesn’t mean your doctor should be reaching for their prescription pad before you finish telling them what’s wrong.

Your physician should fully hear you out, thoroughly explain all possible treatment options, and help you arrive at the best possible treatment plan—which very well may be a prescription, but it also may not be.

#5. If Your Doctor is Simply Not the Expert You Need

So you’ve found a doctor you seem to click with, but they can’t help you with your specific needs. Maybe they can’t answer all of your questions about food allergies the way an allergist could, or they’ve tried several treatments for your persistent migraines and have exhausted their individual resources. In cases like these, you don’t need to breakup with your primary care doctor entirely, but it’s probably in your best interest to find a better fit for your more specific needs.

#6. If Your Physician and Their Practice have No Bedside Manner

Your doctor might be the most brilliant person you’ve ever met and all their suggested treatments work wonders for you, but what good is that doing you if they’re rude, condescending or just an all-around terrible person you just don’t like going to see?

Regardless of their exact pitfalls, you may want to consider making the switch to an equally competent physician who is not only knowledgable, but who also makes you feel taken care of.

The same also applies to the practice itself. Whether it’s dirty waiting areas, an unprofessional staff, or something else that doesn’t exactly scream, “We care about you and your experience,” we suggest you listen to your gut and find a new doctor’s office you feel comfortable in.

#7. If You Doctor Doesn’t Want You to Get a Second Opinion

A doctor who gets upset when you mention wanting to get a second opinion is likely more focused on their own ego than in really listening to you or respecting your needs. The only time actively advising against a second opinion is acceptable is when time is of the essence; if you’re in the emergency room, waiting to get a second opinion will rarely be your best bet.

#8. If Your Physician Doesn’t Coordinate With Other Doctors

If you’re seeing your primary care physician for anything more than a yearly physical or a minor illness, chances are you’re also seeing other specialists for your specific needs.

Information gathered by one of your doctors is relevant to all of your doctors, so if your doctor doesn’t keep your record properly updated with current medications, or won’t even share your record with other medical professionals when requested, find someone who cares and contributes to your overall health journey rather than just the aspects they’re a part of.

#9. If Your Doctor Doesn’t Keep Up With Medical Advancement

Technology has allowed us humans to achieve some pretty incredible medical breakthroughs, and as technology continues to advance, so does our medical knowledge. If your doctor seems out-of-touch with current care practices and doesn’t make much effort to keep up, it’s probably not a bad idea to start shopping around for a new physician.

#10. If Your Physician has Endangered You in Any Way

Of course, any misdiagnosis that caused you physical harm or that was discovered by your doctor but wasn’t communicated to you should be grounds for a near-immediate switch of physicians.

As much as we want our doctor’s to be perfect, everyone makes mistakes. If your doctor did make a misdiagnosis but communicates the situation to you quickly and clearly, and immediately takes action to correct the mistake, then you should carefully consider your past experiences with your doctor before making a rash decision to leave.

Other than a severe misdiagnosis, no other experience is cause for an immediate change of physicians like a doctor that violates your rights or otherwise endangers you. If your current primary care doctor has shared confidential information with a party you have not authorized it be shared with, has put you in a life-threatening situation, or has performed any other serious offense, you need to report them to your state medical board and find a doctor who truly has your best interests at heart.

6 Steps for Switching Physicians

Whatever your reason is for switching doctors, there are a few steps you can take to make the switch easy for everyone involved.

  1. Consult with friends, family, and other medical professionals. Ask the people you trust for their recommendations for a doctor or practice that may better suit your needs.

  2. Don’t rely ONLY on internet ratings. Use reviews as a starting point and a reference, but don’t make your final decision based solely on what you’ve read on the internet. Each and every person is going to have a unique experience and opinion, and you should form yours according to firsthand accounts rather than secondhand ones.

  3. Check the doctor’s affiliations. You interact with more than just your doctor when you have an appointment, so be sure you also check into the rest of the staff, the partners and specialists that practice refers to, and which hospitals your potential new physician has privileges at.

  4. Give a heads-up so they expect a records request/ask to transfer records. You don’t even have to do this face-to-face if you don’t want to, but a simple call or letter notifying your physician of a records request is polite and let’s them know the request is legitimate.

  5. Give feedback. While you’re alerting your current doctor to the upcoming records request, consider also explaining why you’re making the switch. Your doctor should welcome your comments in order to adjust their care to better serve all of their patients (and if they don’t, it certainly validates your decision to move on).

  6. Make a “get acquainted” appointment. Before officially making the switch, schedule a consultation at your new practice so you can get a feel for everything and everyone. Ask how many other cases have they have treated like yours, what they think of your current treatment regimen, and what information they’d need to better understand your condition.

So why are we telling you all this?

We get it. Healthcare is frustrating.

Getting the care you need from your primary care doctor should not a hassle, as it always seems to be. Difficulty getting an appointment, long wait times, disengaged physicians…we don’t blame you if you've been thinking “there has to be a better way.”

We want to do something about it.

Thrive Family Medicine was founded because we were frustrated, too. We believe in high-quality medical care in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere where our patients feel valued. You know…like how every doctor’s office is supposed to be.

But we want to take the idea of humanizing healthcare even further. So our goal is to provide transparency, authenticity and a whole-life approach to healthcare including attention to diet, exercise, mental health and more.

If we sound like the kind of practice you’d like to check out, we’d love to hear from you. Isn’t it time to schedule an appointment with doctors who care? Like, actually care?

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