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Stay On A Doctor's Patient List How To Keep A Good Doctor

Updated on May 14, 2013

Did you know that if you don’t see your doctor within a specified amount of time they can remove you from their list of patients?

You'll have to start all over again finding a practitioner that can take you.

Physicians are becoming more and more scarce. You have to be on a waiting list to see the good ones, get referrals and even sometimes send letters begging to be added as a patient. Less and less students are going to medical school, the list of elderly is growing and we don’t have as many good clinicians to choose from.

I found this out the hard way. Having a healthy lifestyle had paid off so I didn’t have to schedule an appointment with my primary care physician for over three years. I was proud of myself patting my own back thinking this is great. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

My clinic has a policy that after three years they take you off their list and you have to start all over again. I panicked. I had a sinus infection, didn’t feel good and certainly didn’t want to have to call all over town to find someone to work me in. My primary care physician is one of the best in our area and hard to get into even when you are his patient, having to start all over again was not good.

Luckily, I remembered his nurse’s name and called back asking to speak to her. They took my number and had her call me back. Fortunately, she remembered me. I had just been in last week with my daughter. She talked to my doctor who also remembered me and agreed to add me back on… no problem. Phew.

I go to my gynecologist for my yearly physicals and mammograms and only go to my primary care physician for other health issues like the occasional sinus infection or bronchitis. Since I haven't been sick in a long time I didn't think there was a need to go in. Healthy people don't go to doctors.

So I asked them when I went in, what does a person do if they are healthy and have no reason to go to the doctor? The answer is what they call a “howdy visit”. You are fine but you make an appointment once a year anyway and come in. It sounds silly but just calling and telling them you want to stay active isn’t enough. You have to go in. I wasn’t fond of the idea of paying for an office call when I was perfectly healthy but that is how you have to do things in this day of limited resources.

The problem is they have no way of knowing if you have moved away, died or found another physician. They have a waiting list of people needing care so after a certain period of time they put you in an inactive file. You will need to call and ask your doctor what their policy is because there isn’t a law it’s just whatever time frame each clinic decides on. According to the receptionist most of them do this now so it may be in your best interest to ask before it’s too late.

Physicians have such a large patient list many have a physicians assistant help them see patients. I'm not comfortable with that and have switched doctors that were too busy to see me. My gynecologist was like that. It was hard to get an appointment to see her and most of the time they tried to set me up an appointment with her nurse. I asked them if I had to pay the same amount as when I saw my gynecologist and they said yes. I told them no thank you. I'm not paying a doctor's fee to see a nurse.

Most women don't want to see a male gynecologist so I switched to one of the male doctors. I have no problem getting in to see him and he's a good doctor. When I was younger all doctors here were men so I'm used to it. I'll let the young women fight for a place on a female doctor's list.


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    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      That is true, Glenn. I'm not there yet but it is a good idea to have a yearly physical as we get older.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 7 years ago from Long Island, NY

      It's actually a good idea to go for an annual physical after the age of 50. Not necessarily for the purpose of keeping your account open with the doctor but in case any age related illness is developing, it can be detected in time. This hub is very useful. I voted it up.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Good to hear, Daniel. We would be in sad shape if not for our physicians.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Tahoedoc, I love my doctors and respect the work each and every one of them do. They keep us healthy, work long hours and have a very stressful position.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Pamela, Obama's health care reform really doesn't have anything to do with this although I'm sure it will effect it.

      I've noticed a shortage of doctors the last couple of decades. We just don't have as many students going to college to become doctors.

    • Daniel Fonda profile image

      Daniel Fonda 7 years ago from Slovenia

      Well I can only thank God, that we have a wonderful health system here in Slovenia. Have yet to experience any problems whatsoever.

      Great hub!

    • TahoeDoc profile image

      TahoeDoc 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

      It actually brought tears to my eyes to read a hub that wasn't all about doctor-bashing. I brace myself when I see something that has doctor in the title because I get really sad when I read all the hate. After giving up my youth, my health, time with my family and my lifestyle to the practice of medicine, it is so disheartening that most people think I'm part of some kind of evil machine designed to make and keep them sick and rob them of their hard earned money.

      Anyway, I know that wasn't the whole point of the hub, but I wanted to say THANK YOU for a few kind words in defense of doctors to you, Pamela and to the kind people who posted here.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      As a nurse I have certainly seen healthcare change dramatically over the last couple of decades. Obama care is just a disaster for the doctors and I surely wouldn't want to be taken off the list of the Dr. that I trusted. Thanks for the information.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, Becky.

    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      I agree with willstar on all points. Great timing with this hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Ob-Gyn are even harder to get into. Mine won't take anyone without insurance.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I agree. My wife is a labor and delivery RN and as result, I too know quite a few docs.

      Just this month, the labor and delivery floor at the hospital where they all worked was closed because they were swamped by indigent mothers (mostly illegals from Mexico looking for a free delivery and establishing an anchor baby) who had no intention of paying. Our state's indigent health care system is flat broke, mostly due to the huge influx of illegals swamping the system. As a result, hospitals are forced to absorb the costs themselves and if they can't, they have to close their ER's and birthing centers.

      Now we want even more government dictates? I don't think that's a viable solution at all.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Will. I have a few friends who are doctors and know how hard their job is. We need them and should keep them happy.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      BTW, excellent and timely Hub.

      Rather than penalize and discourage doctors with new rules, regulations, and salary caps, we should be encouraging them and recognizing that their salaries have simply kept up with inflation.

      A doctor devotes many years and hundreds of thousands of education dollars before ever earning a penny! Add to that the high costs of running a practice and malpractice insurance, and of course the fees are high!

      Voted up, awesome and useful Pamela!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      There aren't enough doctors to go around and unfortunately we have to play by the rules or we lose out.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      And it's about to get far worse.

      Many doctors are planning early retirements rather than submit to the overreaching bureaucracy of Obamacare. To make matters worse, many new med students are dropping out or changing their field rather than work for government controlled and dictated fees. On top of that, forty million new (and irresponsible) patients will be seeking 'free' health care at your doctor's office and swamping an already strained and overloaded system.

      Every country that has socialized medicine is now rationing that medicine, and since the elderly consume medical treatments at higher rates, their rationing is the one most targeted by those trying to make a flawed system work.

      Hopefully, this atrocity will be repealed or found unconstitutional, and government will do what's best for medicine by getting completely out of it and allowing the free market to function.


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