How many chances should I give a “good” doctor?

February 7, 2014

Finding a good PCP* (primary care physician) is really hard. I need to find someone who is open-minded and respectful. They must consider my opinions and be willing to read the research I bring in. They must not dismiss my symptoms as unimportant. They must be willing to give me referrals to the doctors who are most likely to help my health, not just the ones their hospitals get the most money for. You’d think this would be the bare minimum to expect of any doctor but, sadly, that’s not the case. At least, that hasn’t been the case in my experience.

Last fall I thought I’d finally found the one. He seemed to meet my basic requirements and then some. I liked him a lot. We only had a get-to-know-you introduction meeting, but I liked him enough after that to think I could stop searching.

I hadn’t had my old PCP’s records sent over before my visit, just in case it didn’t work out. Why go to that bother for no reason, right? So after the appointment I had them sent. Also, after the appointment, thanks to a new system, I could see his notes online! This was awesome! Unfortunately, there were some mistakes. I might have let them go, but since I knew the Social Security Administration and also the private long term disability insurance would be requesting them to evaluate my condition, I wanted to make sure they were as accurate as possible. So I wrote a letter full of corrections that I wanted made and/or added to my file. Then at the beginning of January, I called and left a message to make sure the old records were received and my letter of corrections had been addressed. I didn’t hear back.

Three weeks later I called again. I was told it was very unusual that he wouldn’t have called back. I left another message. She said that she would mark it urgent so that I’d hear back right away.

That was two weeks ago.

I called today and left another message. I made it clear that I was getting ready to look for a new doctor. The receptionist stressed that this never happens, that he always calls back. Regardless, he hasn’t called me back. I’m feeling so torn. I really like this guy. Medically, I think this is the way to go. But if he can’t return calls, even if the matter isn’t urgent, then what good is he? What happens if the disability insurance company asks him to fill out a form and he never does it? What happens if I call about something that really is important? Then what?

I think this will be the last chance. Today is Friday, and the office is closed over the weekend. But if I don’t hear from him next week, then I’ll have to look for a new doctor. I hate to do that. I liked this guy, I really really liked him. And looking for doctors sucks. But my health is too important to take these chances. I just hope that this time he calls.

*For those not familiar with HMOs, the PCP is the gateway doctor. Insurance will not pay for any specialists unless I have a referral from a PCP, so it’s vitally important that I get someone fantastic.

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