23 Signs You Need a New Doctor, According to Actual Doctors
There's no reason to keep dealing with a doc that isn't meeting your needs.
Let's face it, not all doctors are created equal. One may be the cream of the crop when it comes to their medical expertise, but their bedside manner is far from exemplary. Another might be beaming with the kind of personality that puts you at ease, but their professional skills don't inspire the level of confidence you look for in a medical professional. And what makes the doctor-patient relationship even more complicated is when personal and professional lines begin to blur over time. Maybe you consider your doctor a true friend, but are skeptical on whether or not they are the most qualified person to make important health decisions for you. Or maybe you feel that your doctor isn't listening to you and doesn't show you the respect necessary to gain your trust. Whatever the reason may be, that fact of the matter is that certain doctors just don't mesh well with certain patients. And if you are unsure if that's the case in your current situation, we had actual medical professionals identify the signs that indicate it might be time to seek a second opinion and find a new doctor.
They don't take your concerns seriously.
Sometimes, you know in your gut that something is amiss, but test after test is inconclusive. If your doctor is dismissing your concerns and symptoms and leaning too heavily on levels and numbers, it's time to find a new provider.
"Instead of being told that it's 'all in your head,' a doctor [who] can't help you should make a referral to a specialist, thereby assuring you that something can be done to address your problem," says Yeral Patel, MD, a functional medicine practicing physician in Newport Beach, California.
They are patronizing or condescending.
If a doctor speaks to you as though you're a child or you're incapable of understanding what he or she is saying, it may be a warning sign that they aren't the right fit for you.
"While doctors are highly educated, they are not superior beings and should not treat patients as if they are," Patel says. "A doctor-patient conversation should be respectful, informative, and two-ways, no matter how grave the news or how difficult the diagnosis."
They start giving you advice about your personal life.
If your doctor starts getting too personal—and ignores the professional—you may want to move on. For example, one Reddit user told her doctor that her libido had "tanked" and asked if it might be related to her birth control pills. The doctor's response? She had been with the same guy for two years and should probably break up with him if she wanted her libido to return to normal.
"Thankfully I did not take that advice. I got a new doctor, got an IUD to replace the pills, and kept the boyfriend," the Reddit user wrote, noting that her libido is now back to normal.
Or they pass judgement on your lifestyle choices.
Your doctor should never come across as judgmental during your interactions. If you're opening up to them about things that could affect your personal health, like being sexually active at a young age, they should listen with open ears—only offering medical advice.
"If your doctor judges your life choices, without putting an effort to understand them, it's a clear sign, you should change it," says Nikola Djordjevic, MD, a board-certified family physician and medical advisor with HealthCareers. "A clue to proper treatment is in tuning your habits with prescribed therapy and finding the right solution that will work for your case individually. If that's not possible, you are not in the right place."
They don't make eye contact.
Lack of eye contact during your appointments is one of the surefire signs you need a new doctor. In fact, Patel says that many of her patients have told her that when a doctor doesn't look them in the eye and instead looks at a screen or is typing during the duration of their visit, they don't feel heard.
"In medicine, it's really important to show compassion, and if you're not seeing 'eye-to-eye' with [your] doctor, see another one," she says.
Or they don't listen attentively when you speak to them.
Similarly, Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, California, emphasizes the importance of a doctor's ability to actively listen to your concerns.
"If you've waited forever to see this provider and they've given you five minutes of consultation—much of which was spent typing in your medical record versus looking at you—it may be time to reconsider whether this is the right provider for you," Anand says.
They always seem distracted.
"Doctors often have many things going on at once, [but] when they are speaking to the patient, that's where the focus should be," says Anthony Kouri, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Although your doctor may already have an idea regarding your problem, Kouri notes that they should listen to all your concerns before weighing in. "Just because your doctor is busy or has things on his or her mind, that's not an excuse to be dismissive or inattentive," he says.
They become impatient when you ask questions.
If a doctor you're seeing for an extended period of time consistently brushes off your questions, you should find someone who's a better fit. "You're paying the doctor for [their] services. If you have important questions that [they're] acting annoyed by, it may be time to move on," Kouri says.
And their answers are rarely helpful.
A physician should be willing to take the time to answer all of your questions in non-technical terms, says Geoffrey Westrich, MD, director of research in adult reconstruction and joint replacement at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "If you feel rushed or believe your questions have not been answered in a satisfactory manner, look for another physician," he says.
They have an unpleasant staff.
Since you often interact more with other members of the staff than you do with your actual doctor, Kouri says it's important that you are satisfied with those interactions, as well. "If you're consistently treated poorly by the receptionist or the nurses in the clinic, it may not be the place for you," he says. "If you overhear the staff speaking poorly of other patients or you hear of other patients complaining, it may be time to move on to another doctor."
However, if you like your doctor but not their staff, try speaking directly to your doctor about the matter. "The doctor may be unaware of the staff's mistreatment of patients and may appreciate you bringing it to his or her attention," Kouri says.
Or their staff provides subpar service.
Because a doctor's staff members are the main connection between them and their patients, it's important that these employees are able to provide accurate information at all times, says Velimir Petkov, DPM, a podiatrist at Premier Podiatry in Clifton, New Jersey.
"A close friend of mine recently scheduled to see her doctor of eight years [on a Friday]," Petkov says. "Once she arrived for her appointment, she was examined by a nurse practitioner, and when she inquired as to whether her doctor had an emergency or a personal day off, she was told the doctor just never goes to her office on Fridays. The staff had simply failed to mention that to the patient over the phone."
They have an overly liberal policy for writing prescriptions.
No doctor should be doling out prescriptions to people who don't actually need them. And if you go to the doctor seeking treatment of a minor injury and walk out of the office with a prescription for Vicodin, it's probably time to find someone more responsible. Anand says you want "someone who will assess your condition over some period of time, trying the least invasive and disruptive approaches to managing" your issues first. Not someone who immediately reaches for the pad and pen.
They're always trying to sell you something.
In recent years, some physicians have started to sell outside products like vitamins, botanicals, and other dietary products through their medical practice. "Not all of these activities are unethical, but they can be if it interferes with evidence-based medicine and it turns the physician into a salesperson," Kouri says. If your doctor tries to push you to buy a product you're unsure about, he suggests either seeking a second opinion or finding a new doctor entirely.
Or they push expensive—or questionable—treatment options.
Daniel Paul, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and founder and CEO of Easy Orthopedics, advises staying away from doctors who push expensive treatments that have little evidence backing up their effectiveness or validity. The right doctor will stick with treatments that are tried and true and well within your price range.
They don't consider your financial situation.
Not every patient can afford the best and most innovative treatments. Therefore, Matthew J. Marano Jr., MD, an ophthalmologist in Livingston, New Jersey, says it's a red flag if your doctor doesn't take your financial situation into account when prescribing medication and putting together treatment plans.
They are uninformed about the latest medical advancements.
Doctors should be as up-to-date and informed on the latest medical treatments, studies, and relative technological advancements. If you get the impression that they are "close-minded about treatments that are new," Marano suggests switching providers.
They don't return your calls.
If you call your doctor with a question or concern—no matter how big or small—they at least owe you the courtesy of a response, Marano says.
They never keep appointments on time.
Any number of factors can cause delays at your doctor's office, and running a bit behind schedule is, on some level, an accepted part of the process most patients are familiar with. But if you're consistently forced to wait an hour or more, Petkov says to consider whether or not your doctor actually values your time. "Some doctors' offices regularly double or even triple-book slots in their schedules—and that's just not right," he says.
They don't communicate well with their colleagues.
Whether it involves sending reports and imaging results in a timely manner or providing referrals and treatment instructions, Petkov says every physician should be able to effectively communicate with all their colleagues, especially those who are part of your health care team. "Failure to do so can result in having an important piece of your health history missing," Petkov explains.
They have "a plan" before they know the problem.
Drew Miller, MD, a practicing family physician in Lakin, Kansas, says that if your physician "comes in with 'the plan' before listening to [your] history and performing an exam," it's a sign that they are not willing to listen and adapt, so you should probably find a new provider.
They treat you like a stranger.
Your doctor should never look at you as if you're someone they don't recognize, especially if you've been going to them for quite some time. Patients need to know that their doctor gives their case "attention and care," says Jamie Bacharach, licensed medical acupuncturist and head of practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem.
"A doctor who doesn't remember you or who doesn't remember any of the details regarding your medical history may be overworked," she says. "This is a sign you should find a doctor with the time, attention, and care to dedicate to you."
Your health hasn't improved under their care.
At the end of the day, your doctor's purpose is to help to relieve any problems you are having—whether that means putting you on a course for improvement down the line or recommending you to other specialists. Bacharach says that if, after months or even years with the same doctor, you haven't been "provided with any relief or successful prescriptions or plans to improve your health," you might need a new doctor who can "offer a fresh perspective."
They just don't feel like the right match.
It's important to find a doctor who you're compatible with and someone you can feel confident in. "If it seems that you and your doctor are speaking past each other, or [are] not on the same page in terms of treatment philosophy, then you may want to start seeing other people," says Rhonda Kalasho, DDS, a dentist at GLO Modern Dental in Los Angeles, California.
Additional reporting by Kali Coleman.