Choosing Dr. Right
NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2003
If you don’t have a good relationship with your doctor, there’s a chance your health could suffer. But many people stay with their physicians despite their dissatisfaction with the quality of care.
The Saturday Early Show’s Dr. Mallika Marshall has some advice on when it may be time to choose a new doctor.
Dr. Marshall says there are many reasons that people stay with their doctors despite their unhappiness. Some stay because they don’t know good doctors, others feel that it’s not “right” to switch and still others stay with their doctors simply out of convenience. But, she explains, it’s important to find a new doctor if a physician’s work is inadequate because your health could suffer. Marshall says the following signs may indicate it may be time to look for a new doctor:
It’s Difficult To Get An Appointment
In this world of managed care, it’s sometimes very hard to get an appointment with a physician because doctors are often juggling many patients. Dr. Marshall says that doesn’t mean you should have to wait a month to get in. One way to help the situation is to give the person who is making the doctor’s schedule several options of times that you could come in, possibly including an afternoon, evening or weekend. However, if after you’ve given many options and still can’t get an appointment, it may be time to move on.
Also, be sure to get an appointment with the doctor, not a nurse or an assistant, because they are not as qualified as a doctor to make the right diagnosis.
You’re Discouraged From Seeking a Second Opinion
No one likes being second-guessed, but a good doctor will welcome input from another physician. Even the best doctor can sometimes miss something. Dr. Marshall says to remember that it’s your health that’s at stake and if your doctor discourages you from getting another opinion, then he or she doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
The Doctor Is Unclear or Doesn’t Explain
Some doctors use very technical terms when describing a diagnosis. This is not good because most people don’t have medical degrees and technical terms may be meaningless to them. Also, Dr. Marshall advises to be wary if your doctor fails to directly answer your questions and makes you feel intimidated about asking them.
The Doctor Doesn’t Consider Your Lifestyle
Dr. Marshall says it’s very important that your doctor properly explain your course of treatment because it’s you who is in charge of your healthcare when you are not with the doctor. You should speak up if the treatment options the doctor prescribes somehow interfere with your lifestyle. He or she may be able to offer alternatives that will suit you better.
You Don’t Get Better
If you don’t start feeling better after several consultations, Dr. Marsahll says you may want to consider switching doctors. This doesn’t mean that your doctor isn’t good, because even the best physicians can miss things.
Once you’ve made the decision to switch doctors, make sure you do your homework. While the recommendations of family and friends are important, you want to make sure that the doctor is board certified. You should also check to see if any disciplinary actions have been taken against him or her.
At a first appointment, you are starting with a clean slate. Dr. Marshall recommends asking a lot of questions and voicing any concerns you had about your previous doctor so the same problems aren’t repeated.