Health

When to Help Your Aging Parent Find a New Doctor

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Do you feel trapped with a doctor you just don’t like? Our health is important and we deserve a doctor we trust. Find out when and how to find a new doctor.

For 20 years, I saw the same doctor. He treated me through childhood allergies and asthma, depression, scoliosis, and more. I never doubted his competence or abilities.

When I got married he became my husband’s doctor and then the doctor for my in-laws. He was truly our family physician in every sense of the word. I knew when I had children he would be their doctor as well.

When the healthcare laws began to change and the clinic with them, I started to become more dissatisfied. I was so conflicted. I had a relationship with this doctor. We were comfortable with him and trusted him to this point in but the quality of the care we received was declining.

When my children were passed off to a nurse practitioner for their well-child visits I became concerned. Still, I stuck with him.

Find a New Doctor

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My last straw came when my daughter was running a high fever that just wouldn’t come down. After a taxing weekend, I called the clinic as soon as it was open Monday morning. Their appointments were overbooked and it would be next week before they could see her.

Um, no.

I asked friends for recommendations and found a new doctor who saw us as new patients that afternoon.

It’s Time to Find A New Doctor

I felt guilty about “firing” the man who had been my doctor for so many years. I didn’t want the hassle of building a new relationship. Getting my family’s medical records however, validated my decision.

  • My daughter was almost a full year behind on vaccinations.
  • My MIL took medications without a clear diagnosis that actually made her Dementia worse.
  • The clinic my doctor had been affiliated with made choices that increased their own revenue at the detriment of patient care.

So, how do you know when you need to find a new doctor?

When Your Trust is Broken

With a doctor, you are literally trusting your life and the lives of those you care most about to this person’s hands. While I recognize that doctors are human beings and will make mistakes (just like you and me), you should be able to trust that your doctor has your best interest in mind.

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At my youngest son’s three-month well-child checkup, I expressed some concern about what I perceived as a lack of development. The doctor’s response was merely, “Let’s see how he’s doing at his next appointment.”

Month after month, I express concern. Something wasn’t right and I knew it but our doctor continuously put me off.

I sought a second opinion.

Our new doctor immediately set us on a path of testing and treatment. After this validation with my youngest son, I had trouble trusting our former doctor with the treatment of my other two children and knew I would need to find a new doctor for them as well.

When the Quality of Your Care Declines

As a mom and caregiver, I spend a lot of time researching how to best keep everyone healthy at home. There comes a time though when I need the expertise of professionals.

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I need to know they are just as concerned as I am about my family’s health and well-being.

When you visit your doctor you should be able to expect:

  • To be heard.
    Your doctor should take the time to listen to your concerns.
  • To be treated respectfully.
    Your doctor should never belittle you, talk down to you, or mock you in any way.
  • Honesty and integrity.
    Money often encourages us to do terrible things. If you ever feel your doctor is more concerned about money than your care, you have a right to leave.

When Questions Go Unanswered

You have the right to ask questions if you don’t understand your treatment or diagnosis. In fact, it is your responsibility. No doctor should ever look at you and expect compliance on the basis of “because I said so”!

When my FIL passed away, I became my MIL’s caregiver literally overnight. I had no medical history for her and no idea what medicines she was taking and why. Using her prescription bottles as reference, I set up consultations with all her physicians.

I immediately became suspicious with her doctor for pain management when I started asking for her diagnosis and received no real answers.  After some research, I found out that my MIL had been prescribed narcotic medication by a doctor in another state because of a diagnosis of “severe spinal degeneration” by a chiropractor.

Confused?

So was I.

I asked for tests to be run to determine if this treatment was even necessary. Her doctor indignantly refused.

I got a referral for another doctor who found that no x-rays, scans, or even blood work had ever been done. After his own tests, he determined she has minor arthritis on her hips that can be treated by over-the-counter ibuprofen.

Keep in mind that while your doctor may not truly have any malicious intent, they are not all knowing and will make mistakes. Be proactive in your healthcare by asking questions.

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When Your Time is Not Respected

While it is understandable that emergencies arise and “things” happen even to doctors, your time is valuable too.

When we finally made the decision to switch doctors, the clinic had sent out a notice that said doctors were allotted a maximum 15 minutes of patient time for regular appointments.

Fifteen minutes to examine, consult, diagnose, AND treat.

Additionally, they began to encourage us to email our doctor our concerns (for a “nominal” fee, of course) and avoid visits all together.

If we were able to make an appointment, the wait time was easily over an hour and anyone who has ever sat in a waiting room with someone who has Dementia or small children knows that that’s just not going to go well.

This respect of time is a two-way street and you should also extend the same courtesy to your doctor. Be prepared when you get to your appointment so you are not wasting his/her valuable time. Be on time for your appointment. If you know you are going to be late, make sure you call the clinic and offer to reschedule. I have never had to reschedule when I call as they are able to quickly move things around when they know they need too.

Trust Your Instincts

Finally, when trying to decide if you should find a new doctor always trust your instincts. Even if you can’t “put your finger” on why you feel like you need to find a new doctor, go with your feelings. The most important part of a patient/physician relationship is trust. If you feel uneasy with your current doctor, do not hesitate to find another.

When I first began searching for a new doctor for my youngest son, I made appointments with several. While there was nothing “wrong” with the first doctor we interviewed, I just didn’t feel confident in her office. I decided to keep looking. After we found my son’s new doctor, she said everything the first one had. While I couldn’t pinpoint it’s source, I couldn’t shake my discomfort and went with the doctor I felt confident with.

I knew that if I took my son to a doctor I wasn’t comfortable with, even if there is nothing really wrong with the doctor, my son would not be receiving the care he needs and deserves because of my discomfort.

How to find a new doctor

  1. Check with your insurance for the covered providers in your area.
  2. With that list in hand, ask your friends and local social media groups for their recommendations and experiences. You should also do an online search to see if anything alarming pops up.
  3. Get a complete copy of your medical records.
  4. Prepare a list of questions to ask and schedule an initial consultation. Think of it as an interview.

You have a right to quality health care where you trust and respect your doctor. You should be able to feel confident that he/she will take the time to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. As the person you trust most with your health, you should feel comfortable with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to question, seek a second opinion, and when necessary, find a new doctor.

Did you like this post? Have you ever had to find a doctor? Let me know in the comments below!

Empowering women to THRIVE in their multi-generational homes.

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