Can you change doctors? Are you allowed to switch doctors? What are some things to consider before changing doctors?
Can I Change Doctors?
The short answer to this question is “yes”. You can definitely change doctors.
If you feel that your doctor is not providing you with the best care that you can receive, your doctor is so busy that he/she does not have adequate or reasonably convenient time to meet with you, or for any other reason, you can switch doctors.
Here are few reasons why you are the final arbiter as to whether you keep or change your doctor.
It is your health. You possess no greater asset than your health and, if you feel that switching to another doctor is going to benefit your health, then you owe it to yourself to at least carefully consider doing it.
Not all doctors are the same. Many patients wrongly assume that all doctors are basically the same. Patients assume that all doctors will have the same opinion about their prostate cancer, about the best treatment option, and about any number of other questions that often come up regarding prostate cancer. This is simply untrue. Doctors vary greatly from one to the next in terms of personal demeanor, quality of medical care, medical opinion about a particular patient’s best course of action, and much more.
You are the ultimate decision maker in this situation. Long gone are the days in American medicine (or in medicine in most places in the world) where the physician was the first and last word about how things should go regarding the proper diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of prostate cancer and all other diseases. Today, the patient and physician are thought of as partners in the health care process with the patient as the final decision maker. You are the only one who can really make the decision about whether to keep your doctor or not.
What to Consider Before Changing Doctors
Changing doctors takes time. Transferring your health care to another doctor is not done immediately. It takes time to find another doctor, schedule an appointment or appointments, wait for that appointment (which is often not available immediately or even in the very near future), and transfer all of your pertinent medical information (including lab work, imaging tests , clinical notes, etc.) to the new doctor. This process can sometimes be done in as little as a few days if the new doctor is closely associated with your first doctor – such as working in the same hospital. However, this process can also take many days or even weeks to accomplish at times.
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. While there may be an issue with your current doctor, it is not necessarily the case that your new doctor will be perfectly suited to your health care needs either. It is important to keep a level head about the presumed quality of a doctor you have not yet met, even if they come equipped with great credentials and recommendations.
Consider a Second Opinion Rather Than Completely Switching Doctors
Many men are interested in hearing a second opinion at some point in their journey with prostate cancer. Whether this be at the diagnosis, treatment, or follow-up stages, a second opinion can often be very valuable. Getting a second opinion requires some of the same efforts that are required to switch doctors such as having medical records forwarded to the second physician, scheduling and waiting for an appointment, etc.
Second opinions can be extremely valuable for a couple of reasons:
The most obvious reason is that they can provide you with knowledge that you did not previously have. You may be told facts about prostate cancer that you did not know, informed of other treatment options of which you were unaware, or told about side effects that you had not considered. Learning something new is usually the biggest benefit to seeking a second opinion.
Your first doctor’s recommendations may be repeated or confirmed. This can also be very important, especially psychologically, for many men. After hearing more than one doctor give the same set of recommendations, many men are much more confident that they are truly being given good information and feel better about following those recommendations.