doctor at deskDoctor Swap

Recently Sarah, a young lady with a solid history of medical issues, needed to change doctors due to her physician no longer practicing medicine. After contacting a new doctor, he initially refused to take her on as a patient, but then stated he would, but indicated he would only do so under the condition that her pain management prescriptions would be reduced to approximately one-half her current dose. After her first appointment the doctor not only agreed to continue seeing her but wrote full dose prescriptions. What you do and how you approach a new doctor may help make the transition easier for both you and the physician. Here are Sarah’s secrets for a successful doctor swap.


Have a Good Reason

Make sure you are changing doctors for a good reason. The average person finds a doctor to care for them and sticks with that medical provider until death. The fact that you are changing can be a red flag. If you change physicians too often it will invite questions, especially if you are requesting the new doctor to prescribe pain management medications or other controlled substances (narcotics). More than you may realize, your medical information is shared between medical providers, pharmacists and insurance companies, all of whom can raise issue if they suspect anything wrong.

Drop Off the Paperwork

If you have located a doctor willing to look at your case, gather all of your medical records and test results, especially those written by your current doctor, and take them to the new doctor in person to make sure they actually arrive. This needs to be done as soon as possible, but not less than two to three weeks before your first appointment to allow plenty of time for review. Many doctors will want to peruse your records prior to scheduling an appointment.

Who’s in Control?

You need to understand that the person in control of the swap is the new doctor, not you. If he or she feels that you are not a match for their practice, they will let you know. If you have been turned down, politely and calmly inquire as to the reason. If you beg or get upset it will probably only solidify the denial decision in the doctor’s mind. Anything you say to the receptionist or nurse will probably be repeated to the doctor too so be careful what you say and how you say it. Move on to the next physician on your list if a doctor refuses your case. In Sarah’s situation, the doctor initially refused her as a patient due to their unwillingness to prescribe narcotics. Instead of getting upset, Sarah asked the doctor to provide a level of dose he would be comfortable prescribing. The physician countered with one-half the dose and Sarah scheduled an appointment to see him.

Be Prepared

Be sure to review all of your medical records yourself so that if the new doctor has questions you can refer him to documentation as opposed to providing what he or she may feel is just your opinion. Sarah was able to provide specific records to counter her new doctor’s misgivings during her appointment.

First Time

When you go to your first appointment, take someone with you who knows your health situation intimately. Not only can they corroborate what you are saying, but they can also add in details you may forget. Be sure to arrive when you are requested, if not a few minutes earlier. Take the time to dress nicely. Be polite and speak positive words. This first appointment is akin to a job interview. You want to make sure you put your best foot forward and not give the doctor a reason to deny you as a patient.

During the Appointment

When you see the physician speak clearly and thoughtfully but do not hesitate or appear to be avoiding questions the doctor asks. Honesty is always the best policy. You should have nothing to hide. If you have a concern, be sure to ask it now, after all, you are also interviewing the doctor during this appointment.

Sarah was able to explain clearly that her medications were selected by trial and error over a period of years and provided a list of medications previous doctors already tried and found ineffective. She provided medical records written by two doctors including a surgeon testifying to her medical condition along with their thoughts on continued improvement. In addition she was also able to accurately describe her physical condition and pain levels when taking reduced dosages.


Sarah was able to provide the necessary documentation, answer all of the doctor’s questions in full and set his mind at ease. As a result, she walked out of the office with a full set of prescriptions written for her normal dose instead of the half dose the doctor had stated he would write. Sarah’s success started with how she presented herself during the first phone call to the physician’s office and was clinched by her ability to provide detailed documentation of her physical condition necessitating the need for her specific medication dosage.

Final Thoughts

Despite your best efforts, you may not succeed in convincing a doctor to take you on as a patient or provide the exact care that you desire. The bottom line is that medical providers do what they want to do; after all it is their license on the line. However, how you present yourself will go a long way toward developing the kind of relationship that is mutually beneficial for the provider and the patient.



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