Should I Find a New Rheumatologist?

Use this checklist to figure out whether your current rheumatologist is the best fit for you.

Stacey Feintuch
More Sharing +

When you have RA, you may be seeing your rheumatologist more frequently than you see some of your closest friends. So it helps if your doctor provides not just clinical excellence but also the compassion that makes your visits pleasant—and takes your care to the next level. 

In fact, compassion isn’t just the icing on the cake when it comes to medical treatment. Numerous studies in the Journal of Family Practice, the Archives of Internal Medicine and elsewhere show that compassion leads to better compliance (meaning you’ll be more likely to stick with your RA management plan), improved outcomes and even lower healthcare costs. Unfortunately, not every doctor scores an A+ in bedside manner: According to a national survey by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, only 53% of patients and 58% of doctors rated the U.S. healthcare system as a compassionate one

So how does your rheumatologist rate when it comes to clinical expertise and compassion? Ask yourself the following questions; if you can check three or more, it may be time to find a practitioner who can provide the treatment you deserve.

  • You dislike your rheumatologist’s bedside manner.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t listen to you.
  • Your rheumatologist is unsympathetic, cold or disrespectful.
  • You don’t feel confident about your rheumatologist’s abilities.
  • You feel rushed and often leave appointments with some of your questions unasked.
  • Your rheumatologist uses terms you don’t understand.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t encourage you to ask questions.
  • Your visits lack continuity—you constantly have to repeat yourself.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t seem confident or knowledgeable about the latest RA treatment options.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t share test results or explain why a certain test or treatment is being done.
  • You consistently have to wait a long time for your appointment, are put on hold for a while when you call or can’t get convenient appointment times.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t return your messages or call in refills.
  • Your rheumatologist is rude, condescending or defensive.
  • You were misdiagnosed, or an error was made in your treatment.
  • You just don’t have a good feeling about your rheumatologist.
  • Your rheumatologist is self-centered.
  • Your rheumatologist doesn’t follow through (for example, doesn’t call when they say they will).
  • The office staff isn’t friendly or helpful.
  • You get a second opinion on a medical issue and decide to go with that rheumatologist instead.
  • Your overall experience is not positive.

What to do before you switch rheumatologists
Once you’ve decided that you should or want to change rheumatologists, make the transition smooth. Be sure to:

  • Have copies of all medical records sent to your new rheumatologist, including notes and test results.
  • Schedule a final visit with the rheumatologist you’re leaving.
April 2013