How do I change my doctor in Manitoba?

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Have you ever had stomach pain so bad you couldn’t stand straight? I had to endure such pain for three years all because I didn’t know that I could change my family doctor.

The first time I experienced stomach pain, I went straight to my doctor for consultation. He did a physical exam and prescribed meds. However, the pain kept coming back, and every time, he prescribed the same medicine even if the pain was increasing in intensity. Finally, a friend noticed that I was in distress and advised me to change my doctor. As a newcomer to Canada, I didn’t know I could do that! I called health links immediately. I was assessed over the phone and was referred to a different doctor. The new doctor ran some blood tests to know the underlying cause of my stomach pain. I was then prescribed the right medication which healed me and ended my pain for good.

Do you need a new family doctor?

It can be a difficult situation when you are not getting the right medical treatment, or perhaps the respect you deserve from your health care professional. If you are in such a situation, you have the right to advocate for yourself. You can choose another doctor or health care professional so that you can receive better care sooner.

Reasons you might want to change your doctor

  1. The doctor does not listen to you or is dismissive. This shows when:
    • They interrupt you while you’re explaining your situation.
    • The doctor avoids eye contact and is always in a hurry during each appointment.
    • They don’t give you the time or opportunity to ask questions.
    • You feel like you cannot be honest with them.
    • They are not taking your health complaints seriously.
  2. Your doctor does not contact you with important information on time.
  3. The clinic does not have the right facilities that you need.
  4. You are moving to a different area.

There can be other reasons for shifting to another doctor but the important thing to remember is that if your health needs are not being met to your standards, you have the right to find what you need.

What to do if you are not getting the proper treatment?

  1. Know that you can switch doctors at any time, if necessary.
  2. You can look for another doctor through recommendations from friends or neighbours, calling health clinics in your vicinity, or by using the Family Doctor Finder.
  3. Get your medical files faxed or moved to the new doctor. All you have to do is sign a form stating the release of your files.
  4. If you have urgent health concerns and you don’t have a new doctor yet, you can visit walk-in clinics all over Manitoba. If the health concern is life threatening (see the list below), call 911.

Examples of health concerns that should go to emergency:

  • Major trauma, severe burns, severe allergic reaction, difficulty breathing or sudden chest pain.
  • Sudden onset of severe headache, confusion or trouble speaking, seizure, stroke, heart attack, unconsciousness with an inability to wake.

Patients experiencing such conditions or their proxy are encouraged to call 911 for EMS intervention.

If you are not sure if it is an emergency, you can also call Health Links Info-Sante. They can help you decide whether you need an ambulance or not.

Moving your medical data or files

You have three options:

  1. Call to request that your medical history be transferred to your new doctor.
  2. You may fill out a form stating the release to have your medical records transferred.
  3. Meet with your former doctor to discuss your options for moving your files.

By Amen Loveth Otabor

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Community Resources

Learn more about accessing your health information: Personal Health Information; and Frequently Asked Questions.

Check out the WRHA “Know where to go” poster for a quick guide.

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