Breaking Up With Your Doctor

Last updated: November 2021

Sometimes, your insurance company’s decisions, distance to your doctor’s office, or your doctor’s retirement dictate your need to find another doctor for your care. But sometimes, it’s your strained relationship with your doctor that is impeding your treatment plan. If you’re not happy with your doctor, you have every right to find a new one.

Here are five reasons to consider breaking up with your medical provider.

1. You just don’t mesh.

The perfect doctor for your neighbor doesn’t make that doctor perfect for you.

I think my rheumatologist is great. He listens to me, he understands the challenges of my psoriatic arthritis, and he asks for my input when deciding what is the best course of treatment. However, two friends who saw my doctor came to completely different opinions of him. They found my rheumatologist too brief, unresponsive, and unsympathetic. He’s not a bad doctor. He’s just not the doctor for them.

If you are getting similar negative vibes from your doctor, you might want to consider a new provider, even if he came highly recommended.

2. Your time is of no concern.

If your doctor doesn’t value your time, find one who does.

My son was referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor when an infection in his nose wouldn’t clear up. After sitting in the waiting room for two hours for his appointment, the doctor finally arrived at the office. We could hear him laughing and carrying on with staff for another 30 minutes before we were taken to an exam room. We again waited another 30 minutes. When the doctor finally saw my son, he did not apologize for the wait, but instead said he was surprised we waited so long and that we should have left the office hours ago and made a new appointment on another day. The doctor said he decided at the last minute to take a lunch with colleagues and that patients just need to roll with his lack of adherence to office hours and appointment schedules. No, we needed to roll right on out of the office and never come back.

3. Your exam is inadequate.

Your doctor should be taking time to examine your whole body and ask you questions related to your care. If not, then look for a new one who will.

My first rheumatologist diagnosed me with psoriatic arthritis by only examining my hands. She never asked me about my hips, knees, ankles, or neck. She took no notes on my symptoms, severity, or amount of time I’ve been experiencing stiff, swollen joints. She constantly was looking at her watch, as if spending a mere five minutes with me was keeping her from other patients. She took no interest in me as a person; rather I was just a number on her patient schedule.

4. Your treatment isn’t working.

If your doctor refuses to consider other treatment options, then it’s time to get a second opinion, if not switch doctors entirely.

When my son was 6 years old, he was taking a large dose methotrexate. He had horrible side effects, including violent mood swings, which were considered rare. He would try to climb out of his second-story bedroom window, destroy his room and throw his mattress down the stairs. He would even scream and hit me. The next day, he would be back to his normal, happy-go-lucky self. He wouldn’t remember anything that happened. He had so much fear in his eyes when we’d tell him what he did. It was scary for all of us.

When I called his pediatric rheumatologist, she said that my son would be so much worse off without this medication. She refused to hear me and said he would get used to the medication in time. I was scared with him on methotrexate, but just as scared as to how fast his psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis would progress if he didn’t take it.

We waited a few months, but saw no improvement in side effects. We sought a second opinion, and I put my foot down and said no more methotrexate. He was put on an alternative medication without any side effects. Getting a second opinion was one of the best decisions we ever made for his health.

5. Your doctor is rude or condescending.

If your medical professional trivializes your concerns, it’s time to move on.

I had the unfortunate experience of seeing a dermatologist who scolded me for not using birth control while taking a certain medication. He never bothered to even ask me why, even though I had a perfectly good medical reason and that becoming pregnant wasn’t even an option. He gave me zero compassion and 100% humiliation. I refused to ever see him again.

While finding a doctor that fits with you is important, you should know that paperwork and timing of appointments may make it difficult to switch medical providers quickly. Be prepared to invest your time and energy into finding a new doctor that is right for you. Be sure to switch before you have an emergency or major flare that will cause a delay in care.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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