- Education and Science
Stay On A Doctor's Patient List How To Keep A Good Doctor
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.