This summer, I was taken by surprise to learn that two of my favorite doctors were leaving Reno, NV. My new neurologist, who had evaluated me during the Lupus/Lyme confusion (see the story here), sprung the news on me that she was only a temporary fill-in for the practice until they found a permanent one. Then, my dear internist, the doctor responsible for discovering that I had Lupus, told me that she was also leaving town.
The news of their departures made me feel like an abandoned child. Lost and worried about where to go and whom to ask for help. I was especially devastated by my internist leaving because I had developed such a close relationship with her beginning when I first moved to Reno in 2012. She was the hub of my wheel of doctors who treat me for everything. I treasured her more than my rheumatologist, and that’s saying something.
So, with this Connect with Your Doctor post, I’m going over what to do when your doctor moves away. Here’s a list of steps to take:
- Once you get past the shock, ask your doctor who they would recommend as a replacement. Sometimes they already have someone in mind to take their patients. Other times, especially if a practice closes down, you’re left figuring out where to go.
- Ask fellow patients, if you know any well enough, to find out the name of the new doctor they will be seeing and why.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations of doctors who could become your new doctor. It’s best to get recommendations of doctors that your friends and family have worked with personally and know first hand.
- Google the names of recommended doctors, checking out patient reviews of them. Keep in mind that you can’t rely on one review site due to possible unfair reviews. Look at many sites, such as healthgrades.com, www.angieslist.com (if you have a membership), www.wellness.com, www.ratemds.com, to determine overall patterns of positive ratings or negative ratings.
- Check with your state’s medical licensing board to determine if there has been any disciplinary action against the recommended doctor. Check out the American Medical Association’s page, Links to State Medical Boards, for a complete list. From each state’s page, you can search for the doctor’s name to find out what’s on their record, if anything.
- Once you decide, schedule an appointment to get established with that new doctor. New patient appointments sometimes take months, so make the appointment as soon as you can.
- Request your records from the office of the doctor who is leaving. Have the records sent to you or to your new doctor. If they’re sent to you, there will likely be a small administrative fee; however, you’ll have the records in your possession in case it turns out that you don’t want to work with the new doctor after all.
No matter how bad you feel when you find out your doctor is moving away, try to consider it an opportunity to have a new set of eyes on your case. Sometimes, it turns out that being forced to change doctors can be a good thing.
That’s what I’m trying to remember as I wait to see my new internist. She has some big shoes to fill.
Have you experienced one of your doctors moving away? How did you handle it?