MAKING CHANGES...WHEN SHOULD YOU FIRE YOUR DOCTOR? · Parkinson's Resource Organization





Ruben Castaneda and Angela Haupt

Excerpts from US News & World Report – Oct 24, 2021

If you have a sinking feeling about your doctor, is it because s/he doesn’t listen to you or value your time?

Staying with a doctor you’re not happy with is as harmful as staying in a relationship you know is bad because it’s easier than making a change. But parting ways may be the healthiest move. “If you’re not happy with your doctor, you’re not going to have a good relationship. That trust won’t be there, so you might hesitate to see them, and you won’t tell them everything about your health when you do go, which could put your health at risk,”

    Changing doctors can be a challenging process. Before investing time figuring out how to switch doctors, let’s analyze whether such a change is necessary. Here are 11 signs it’s probably time to fire your doctor:

1. You and your doctor don’t mesh.

You and your doctor don’t see eye to eye on most everything, it’s helpful if you work well together. If you want a partnership, for example, a doctor who spouts commands is not the best fit; if you value a warm bedside manner, consider ditching a formal, distant physician.

    Some patients like doctors who are very direct and blunt, and some patients can’t stand that type of doctor because they think he or she isn’t empathetic enough or doesn’t provide enough options. When there’s a mismatch, neither person is at fault – but it could be grounds for termination.

2. Your physician doesn’t respect your time.

Do you routinely wait an hour to see your physician, only to feel like s/he is speed-doctoring through the visit? You should never feel like you’re being rushed. If your doctor doesn’t take the time to answer your questions or address your concerns, there’s a problem. If your doctor’s not giving you the time you need, they’re not listening to you fully because they’re rushing, they’re not giving you the full care that you need.

    The medical community is becoming increasingly sensitive to patients’ precious time. If your doctor’s chronic lateness makes you grind your teeth, why stay with him/her?

3. Your doctor keeps you in the dark.

A doctor should be open and thorough about why he or she recommends a certain treatment or orders a specific test, plus share all results with you. If a doctor doesn’t explain a decision, or at least not to your satisfaction, at that point a doctor is bad. It’s also important S/he uses terms you understand, rather than complicated medical jargon; otherwise, explanations are meaningless.                Your health is too important to feel confused or uninformed.    

4. Your physician doesn’t listen.

Listening is one of the most important skills a physician can have. A good doctor listens to their patients’ description of pain and other symptoms. Physicians are a busy bunch, but their most important time in a day is spent with their patients. If your doctor doesn’t allow time to give you a complete picture of your overall health, you can’t help them effectively maximize their time. It’s best to go with the doctor who puts down the chart and actively listens to what’s going on with you. You’ll both be better for it.

5. The doctor’s office staff is unprofessional.

The receptionists are the link between you and the doctor. If they blow you off – or neglect to give your message to the physician, say, about side effects of a new medication – your health could be at risk. Even if you like your doctor, a bad office staff could signal it’s time to look elsewhere.

6. You don’t feel comfortable with your doctor.

Doctors need to know intimate details you may not even share with friends or family members. If you’re unable to disclose such facts, you and your doctor may not be the right match.

    A sense of unease about his/her decisions and recommendations, even if you can’t say exactly why, is also a perfectly legitimate reason for cutting the cord.

    Beware of sloppy medical mistakes, too: If your doctor prescribes a medication to which you’re allergic, and you know that information is in your history, a separation may be in order.

7. Your physician doesn’t coordinate with other doctors.

Your primary care physician should be the quarterback of your health care team, managing each step of the medical process. That means keeping track of specialists’ reports and instructions and talking with you about their recommendations. If s/he is slacking, an important piece of your care could slip through the cracks.

8. Your doctor isn’t available.

A good doctor is available for follow-up questions and concerns. A growing number of doctors are making themselves available to patients via email, text message and virtual platforms like Skype, and at the very least, you need to know that in an emergency, you won’t be left hanging.

9. Your doctor doesn’t take a holistic approach.

While most physicians can capably prescribe medication and order tests, it’s important to consider if your physician factors in how a new drug or protocol will fit into your lifestyle. If your doctor isn’t addressing your medical issue from a “mind, body, spirit” perspective, you might consider a switch. The best health outcomes will happen when you are able to talk to your physician about lifestyle issues like eating habits, how much exercise you should get and whether you’re interacting with other people enough to avoid social isolation.

10. Your doctor is a reluctant learner.

Whether your doctor went to medical school three or 30 years ago, make sure you have access to his/ her curriculum vitae. The CV, or resume, can provide you a great picture of how in touch your doctor is with medical advances. For example, techniques to treat back pain have advanced in the last 30 years. You want to make sure your doctor is keeping pace. The CV will tell you what conferences the physician has attended, what current continuing education they are receiving and whether they’re training other medical professionals in their field. A doctor could provide such education by speaking at conferences, conducting research studies or authoring journal articles or textbook chapters on whatever his/her specialty is.

11. Your physician is rude or condescending.

If your physician has you wondering why are doctors so rude, it’s time to part ways. Same goes if s/he trivializes your concerns as though they’re not valid. One of the clearest signs you should move on is if s/he walks out of the room while you’re still talking.

Review what other patients have said about doctors. There are online tools you can use to see how other patients have rated particular doctors. For example, ProPublica’s Vital Signs API database provides information on 1.3 million doctors and other health care professionals throughout the U.S. The database includes information on:

The provider’s information, such as specialty, location and contact information.

Standing with federal health programs.

Office visits and costs.

Relationships with drug and medical device companies.

Prescribing patterns and habits.

Surgical performance.

Healthgrades, another online tool, has more than 10 million ratings from patients.

    You can use this online tool to read patient reviews about doctors in a wide range of specialties.

    Patient reviews alone may not be the best for making your judgment, as when people are happy, they don’t always leave comments.

    Ask for recommendations from friends and other people in your area, which you can do in online forums. Ask a doctor you’re considering if you can come in for a quick meeting with the physician or just come to the office to get a sense of the environment. If a doctor is willing to take a few minutes to meet with you, that shows s/he is vested in listening to you down the road. If the office is clean and the staff is calm and professional, those are good signs.

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Updated: August 16, 2017