Changing doctors is a big step as continuity of care impacts effectiveness of therapy and a child’s wellbeing.
However, this can become necessary if poor relationship with the doctor or the distress it causes you, begins to affect your child’s care.
You should try everything possible to build bridges with the doctor, or you are likely to find the same problems with your child’s new doctor. Talk to the doctor, put your concerns in a letter, involve a mediator, seek a second opinion. All of these can potentially resolve conflict that threatens to disrupt your child’s care.
Changing Doctors Can Damage Care
There is often only one retinoblastoma specialist at a hospital, so changing doctors will almost certainly mean changing hospitals. This can lead to a change in treatment, which could be harmful to your child in the long-term.
Do not look for a new doctor in the hope they will offer an alternative treatment, especially if your child has already begun a course of therapy. Completing the protocol is essential to ensure it has a chance to work on your child’s cancer.
If two experienced doctors or the Tumour Board agree on treatment, stick with the plan. Changing treatment mid-way through may cause the retinoblastoma to become resistant to chemotherapy. This may risk your child’s life, or reduce the chance of saving sight. Your child’s complete wellbeing is paramount.
The most common reasons for changing doctors are inability by the parent or doctor to communicate, personality clash, serious medical error or professional misconduct.
Don’t be afraid to request a new doctor for fear of further vengeful conflict. Doctors are professionals, and your child will continue to receive the best possible care. As with any conflict though, acrimony may remain between you and the original doctor.
If you must change doctors, be open about the reasons and the plan. Explain your decision in writing, and request transfer of your child’s care. You may be asked to sign a medical release before medical records can be transferred.
The doctor must transfer your child’s records if you make the request in writing. Ask the director of the department, or the patient ombudsman to intervene if records are not transferred within a week of your written request.