The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female university student in my 20s. I’ve been getting psychiatric treatment at a hospital for the past five years, but I’m concerned about whether it’s all right for me to switch to a different one.
I feel like the hospital I go to isn’t right for me anymore. My condition has improved, but I honestly can’t say how I really feel to my doctor.
I’ve been advised by others around me to go somewhere else, but I feel bad because the doctor has been treating me for many years.
I think my condition would improve even more if I could find a doctor that’s more suitable for me.
But changing hospitals might be interpreted as me thinking my doctor isn’t trustworthy or reliable.
If I do end up changing hospitals, I’ll probably feel bad about it for a long time.
Am I just thinking too much about this? Please give me advice.
T, Ibaraki Prefecture
Dear Ms. T:
If I were to start off with my conclusion, then I’d say that patients wishing to change to someone else is no big deal for doctors — so don’t worry about it. I’d even advise you to quickly stop seeing your current doctor if the doctor is the type who gets angry when patients switch to someone else.
Setting that emotional matter aside, your doctor will remain important as someone familiar with your medical history because the doctor has been treating you for so long. Some patients wander from one doctor to another, a not-so-great-sounding practice known as “doctor shopping.” Doctors have a difficult time keeping track of the medical history of people who do that, so it’s not very beneficial for patients to shop around.
Before you change hospitals, you should clarify whether it’s a case of your doctor not being suitable for you or that you don’t trust the doctor. You’re very considerate of the doctor — so I don’t think it’s a simple matter of just distrusting the doctor.
Many patients who change doctors later discover that they prefer their previous doctor. If you find yourself feeling the same way, you can just switch back to your previous doctor. In fact, one of my patients has done that. I resumed treating that patient after I half-jokingly told them: “Ha! You’ve recognized my true value at last.”