How to Break Up With Your Pediatrician

firing your pediatrician

Are you no longer
loving your pediatrician?

Earlier this week, I asked you all if you liked your pediatrician because I don't like mine. In fact, I think I want to break up with him. I want to be sure I'm making a good decision so I asked JJ Levenstein, M.D., FAAP, a mom, pediatrician, and owner of Boulevard Pediatrics in Encino, California, for her advice on when it makes sense to "fire" your pediatrician and how to go about doing it.


When is it okay for a mom to question her pediatrician's advice?
“I think for matters of true urgency—treatment of important infections, immunizations, safety guidelines, car seats, developmental concerns, you should adhere to your pediatrician’s advice. She is the expert for these very important health issues. Daily issues that are still up for debate or where opinions may differ, such as sleeping, breastfeeding duration, or order of introducing solids are not hard and fast as far as negative impacts on a baby's life."

Under what circumstances do you think it's reasonable to switch pediatricians?
"There are a number of valid reasons parents decide to switch pediatricians. More common reasons include a scheduling conflict (office hours that no longer work with a parent's schedule) or a change of health insurance. Another reason is the breakdown of communication between a parent and his pediatrician. Communication breakdown can happen when a doctor gets too busy and doesn't spend enough time catering to his patients' needs, or if he fails to follow up or follow through. Parents may also decide to make the switch if the office staff is rude or unaccommodating. And once a child is older, a failed rapport with a pediatrician is a reason to move as well."

If someone wants to "break up" with their pediatrician—how should they go about it? 
"Communication is always the best solution. A parent may want to break up with his pediatrician not because the pediatrician did something wrong, but because of a communication breakdown with the office staff, or because a parent feels he was treated inappropriately. As practice owners, we want to know this so that we can remediate the situation and have the opportunity to apologize, even if we still ultimately lose the patient. If a pediatrician continually has patients move from her practice, and has repeated communications regarding the reasons why, then one would hope she would fix the problem.

If direct communication with your pediatrician is not comfortable, writing a brief note to the practice stating that you are moving on to another provider is reasonable. With that notice, a request for a medical records transfer to the new practice should be included.  Briefly stating "why" does allow your “ex” to hopefully remediate any issues that she may not be aware of, or give your pediatrician the option to call you to clear up any misunderstanding. It is a courtesy to clear your account and pay any balances before departing to a new practice."

Do pediatricians ever break up with their patients?

"Yes, there are times when pediatricians have to break up with patients. Common reasons include:
1. An inability to agree on philosophy of care.
2. An unwillingness to be financially responsible for outstanding bills/payment.
3. Abusive behavior to either the staff or physician.
4. Unacceptable behavior in the office or inability to adhere to office policies.

Additionally, by law, your physician must send you a registered letter informing a patient of his desire to sever their relationship, with an offer to continue to care for the patient for a two week period to allow the patient/family to find another physician."

If you're planning on breaking up with your pediatrician, it's a good idea to make sure you have a new one in place. Check out Dr. Levenstein's advice on the things you should look for and the interview questions you should ask your prospective new pediatrician. Or maybe you should see if a naturopath might be the way for you to go. Click here to find out more.

Have you ever broken up with your pediatrician? What was the cause? How did the break-up go?


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