Have you decided to change doctors and want to write a letter to the doctor you are leaving? If so, here are some guidelines and a sample letter to steer you in the right direction.
Overall, the idea is to make your decision and your feelings known, then to help that doctor improve her service to future patients too.
Guidelines for Writing a Letter to Your Former Doctor
Acknowledge the things she did well, or at least acknowledge that, in total, the relationship was satisfying to you to a point — then went downhill before you made the decision to leave.
Acknowledge the constraints your doctor operates under too. For example, we know that doctors have less time to spend with patients, because insurance and Medicare impose limits. If one frustration is the limited time he spends, then mention that you understand some limitations, but perhaps you think the time is being limited too much.
Be as objective as possible. It's alright to share feelings, but try hard to balance your feelings with specific incidents that have caused you to decide to leave. You can see examples in the letter below.
Make sure you request copies of your records, so you can take them to your new doctor. The new doctor may request them, but you can't be sure that will happen, nor can you be sure the doctor you are leaving will send them. If you have copies, then you can make new copies for your new doctor. You'll want to know the parameters for requesting medical records as you take this step.
With that background in mind, here's a sample letter. Note the areas in bolded italics. These are the areas you will want to fill in or edit to fit your situation. Feel free to make as many changes as necessary to fit your situation.
Dear Dr. Name,
I have been a patient of yours for xx years, months, and until last year, I was satisfied with the service you provided me (or provided my family and me).
Recently, I have been less satisfied, and I have decided to find a new doctor. In particular, the following experiences have bothered me, and I feel as if my health has been negatively impacted. I share these with you in hopes that you will take steps to improve your care for other patients:
(Change this list to fit your situation. These are offered only as ideas of what can be included here.)
- I have had to wait up to a month to get an appointment with you.
- I always arrive for my appointment on time, but then I sit in the waiting room, sometimes more than an hour, to be called. Then I wait for another hour before being seen.
- When I try to tell you about my symptoms, you interrupt me. I don't believe you are hearing everything I have to say about my health, and that makes me nervous that my treatment may not be exactly right. Twice I have had to return to see you, because the prescription you gave me didn't help.
- When I needed my prescriptions renewed, I had to call back three times just to get the renewal called in to my pharmacy. This has happened the last four times I have needed a renewal.
If these problems happened occasionally, then I would not be so frustrated, but they've happened over and over again. It comes across as a lack of respect on your part. I have a great deal of respect for you and am uncomfortable that it is not returned.
I will need copies of all my medical records from the past two years. If there is a form I need to fill out, please mail it to my home address, listed below. If not, please consider this to be my formal request for that information. The specifics you will need are listed below.
Your signature will go here -- first and last name
Your Social Security Number
Your postal mailing address
Note: Your birthday and social security numbers will be needed due to HIPAA requirements, so they can release your medical records to you. Your address will be needed for the same purpose. Here is where you can read more about obtaining your medical records.