Debbie Anderson is a 44-year-old freelance writer and editor who blogs at her slice-of-life site, www.sandiegomomma.com.
Pregnant with my first child, and unsatisfied with my OB-GYN, I switched doctors two weeks before my due date. Throughout my pregnancy, there’d been red flags that this doctor wasn’t for me – he was often irritated with my questions, unsupportive of my choice to have a natural birth, and unavailable whenever I called – but I ignored the signs because I thought I was just being high maintenance and pushy.
Still, as I neared the end of my pregnancy, I couldn’t deny that this doctor was making me uncomfortable and tense, and that couldn’t be good for me or my baby, so I changed doctors and hospitals.
The new doctor I chose accepted me immediately (do not mess with a 38-weeks pregnant woman), and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. I had my natural birth without judgment or intervention and felt supported and cared for in the way I imagined an OB-GYN should care for his or her patients.
Switching doctors isn’t always as dramatic as my scenario, and it’s not always easy to choose a doctor or change doctors when you feel the need to, but here are a few factors to consider when evaluating if you’re seeing the right practitioner:
- Decide if your expectations are being met: Are you more comfortable with a lot of information or just the basics? Do you ask a lot of questions? Do you prefer a straightforward approach to your care, or do you want more empathic and emotional responses to your issues? Are you a hypochondriac who wants every medical outcome explored? If your current doctor is not a match for your personality, it’s time to change. Write down your must haves, and then research the doctors that mesh with your style. It’s certainly acceptable to interview a doctor and get a feel for his or her style, as well as locate testimonials and patient opinions. Doing both will ensure your doctor’s personality is a good fit for yours.
- The hospitals your doctor affiliates with aren’t right for you: Does your doctor have admitting privileges at a hospital that’s farther away than you’d like? Do you have certain conditions that would be better treated at a hospital known for its expertise in those areas? Is the hospital a teaching hospital? All of these things could factor into your decision to switch doctors or choose a new one. You can find any doctor’s affiliation on Vitals or by calling his or her office or by asking the hospital.
- You have a feeling: Maybe the doctor’s staff is rushed and unfriendly. Perhaps you have to wait an hour before you’re seen or the doctor rarely returns messages. It also could be you don’t feel supported. Your billing issues aren’t resolved in a caring manner or your doctor is often impatient and doesn’t follow up with you. Trust your gut. Your intuition is your best indicator of quality care. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, it may be time to explore other medical care.
- Your needs changed: Perhaps you’re older now than when you first selected your doctor, and your concerns and conditions have shifted. Maybe you chose your OB-GYN while you were pregnant, and you’re now in your 40s and hormones are an issue. Whatever it is, every few years or so, it’s a good idea to revisit your medical care to ensure it’s still meeting your needs.
Luckily for me, my last-minute doctor switch went well. But next time? I’ll do my research up front before timing becomes an issue. No matter what, it’s important to remember: taking control of your care is your right and worth the effort.