Angie's List: Changing doctors

The relationship between doctor and patient is the most important aspect of health care, but sometimes it's time to cut ties and move on.

Libby McMullen's son, Greyson, is a healthy baby boy, but Libby had some trouble with her OBGYN during his birth.

Libby says she was happy with her physician during her prenatal visits, but when it came time to give birth, she found the doctor to be rude and unwilling to address her concerns.

"I get to the hospital to be induced and that morning I get there and everything we had talked about and planned for, my induction, went out the window,” she said.

As a result, Libby says she's looking for a new doctor.

Angie Hicks of Angie’s list says deciding to switch doctors is a difficult decision to make because “let's face it, it's a personal relationship. But in the last two years, 37 percent of Angie's List members reported they have switched doctors and over half of them said that it was their decision."

There are many reasons why a patient might feel it is necessary to switch doctors, whether they dislike their bedside manner, treatment options, or they are just hard to get a hold of, “the bottom line is,” says Angie, “if you don't feel comfortable with your doctor, it's time to move on."

There are steps patients should take before breaking up with their doctor.

"If you are going to switch doctors, the most important thing is to find your new doctor ahead of time because it can be a little complicated whether it's looking for someone who takes your insurance or has openings. You don't want to be left in a lurch without a doctor."

Most people never tell their former doctor why they are leaving.

"Whether you decide to tell your existing doctor you are leaving is up to you. If you are comfortable it can provide some valuable feedback to that provider,” she says.

If patients do decide to inform their doctor they are switching, Angie recommends to do it in person or over the phone, “If you are not comfortable doing that consider an email. You can also give an online review - it's a great way to give that feedback to the provider."

The bottom line for patients like Libby is that customers are the ones paying for services, “you need to be comfortable and happy with who your provider is and you shouldn't let embarrassment about switching stop you seeking out what's going to work best for you and your family."

Call it a healthy decision for patients and their families. When switching doctors it is important not to forget to have medical records sent over to the new provider, this may require having to pay for copies.

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