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How to Change Pediatricians

Laura Moss

When it’s Time for a Change

How to find a better fit

Unfortunately, some doctor’s offices will not schedule an interview appointment when the prospective patient is an older child. In that case, Dr. Swanson recommends setting up a visit for a legitimate health concern you have. (Maybe it’s those bedwetting questions you never got answered at your old pediatrician’s office.) “Make an appointment to solve a health problem, and let the new physician show you how they can partner with you,” says Dr. Swanson. Rather than searching online for lists of questions to ask prospective docs, she recommends personalizing your questions to problems you’ve had in the past, so you know they won’t be repeated in the future. For instance, “if you’ve had problems with doctors listening to you in the past, ask them if there is a way you can set the agenda at the beginning of the visit,” says Dr. Swanson. Most of all? “Don’t be shy.” This is your time to make a new start for you and for your child’s health.

Aaronson was thrilled with the new pediatrician she found. “We liked her right away. She followed through on everything. She listened to us, and addressed our concerns, and she even had this holistic approach, which I was looking for,” says Aaronson.

How to tell your old doc

“Don’t worry about your doctor’s feelings getting hurt. All doctors have had a patient leave them at one time or another. We don’t need an apology,” says Dr. Swanson. If you do want to provide your pediatrician with some constructive feedback, but feel uncomfortable addressing her directly, call the practice manager, clinic head, or even the receptionist and, as kindly as possible, explain what you were unhappy with and why you are leaving. “If there really was a concern about the quality of care, physicians should get that feedback,” says Dr. Swanson, “but I don’t think you are obligated to tell them.”

Aaronson thought leaving her doctor would be a bigger deal than it was. “You feel like you sign up for life with these people. But, you’re the parent, you’re the one in control, and I think you can forget that.”

Getting your files transferred

According to Dr. Swanson, most doctors’ offices should be willing to transfer growth charts and vaccinations records at no charge to a new doctor’s office. If the office’s policy is to charge for anything more than that, have your new doctor’s office request your child’s files, which should then be provided to them for free. “Don’t hesitate to ask your new partner to advocate for you,” says Dr. Swanson. After all that’s why you made the switch. 

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