Is it time to find a new doctor? You might have to change providers because you’ve moved to a new home or changed health insurance plans—or you might be hoping to find a doctor who’s a better match for your individual healthcare needs.

If you’re looking for a new doctor, our list of 7 Tips for Choosing a Great Primary Care Physician will get you started, but we urge you not to take this task lightly. Below, we’ve listed a few things to look out for when choosing a doctor, but we encourage you to work with a health expert who can conduct a thorough search and provide additional insight.

Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing a Doctor

1. Negative Reviews
Search online for reviews of the doctors that you’re considering, but keep in mind that reviews aren’t always reliable. (Some doctors solicit positive reviews, and some patients may leave negative reviews that have nothing to do with the care provided.) Pay attention to complaints or concerns that are repeated in reviews from different patients. Do they say that the doctor listened to them and answered their questions or seemed rude and rushed them out? Healthcare is serious business, but patients deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Find a doctor who understands that.

2. The Doctor Is Hard to Reach
Before you select a doctor, call their office. You can ask if they take your insurance, if they’re
accepting new patients, and how soon they have appointments available. This will give you a sense of how responsive they’ll be once you are a patient. If you have a hard time reaching a real person who can answer basic questions, take that into consideration.

3. Multiple Malpractice Cases
If your search turns up malpractice cases, keep in mind that even good doctors may have a judgment against them. One malpractice case is not necessarily a reason to worry, because suits are often filed for reasons outside of a doctor’s control. A pattern of disciplinary actions may be cause for concern. In this area especially, we recommend checking with a health expert for their professional opinion.

4. Unusually Wide Areas of Expertise
If a family physician is also trained in women’s health, that’s normal. But if a doctor claims to be an expert gynecologist, obstetrician, fertility expert, and gynecological surgeon, it’s worth doing more research. Start by checking if the doctor is board certified.

5. The Practice Seems Primarily Focused on Making Money
While researching doctors, you may come across doctors whose practices seem geared toward procedures that reimburse the most. If a doctor offers services that are unrelated to the doctor’s specialty, such as a cardiologist who provides Botox injections, it suggests that they may be more focused on income than patient care.

6. The Doctor’s Services Fall Outside of Standard Guidelines of Care
Medical standards are designed to protect patients. They exist so that doctors can provide effective, evidence-based care. If a doctor is known to perform procedures that are “off
label” or that don’t follow FDA standards, you may want to consider other options.

The items on this list shouldn’t necessarily deter you from choosing a particular doctor. A health advisor can often look at the big picture and recognize a true “red flag.” At Better Health Advisors, we help people find great doctors on a daily basis. To learn more, please visit our website or contact John at john@betterhealthadvisors.com.