12 Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor - Kidney Disease

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12 Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor

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This seems to come up from time to time so I went looking through my archives and came across this article from about 18 months ago. I thought it was a good time to post it here. We are about to enter a brand new year (Happy New Year, everyone) and maybe you'll see an issue or two you are dealing with. The authors of the article are credited.

12 Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor

By Angela Haupt and Ruben Castaneda

Have a sinking feeling about your doc?

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. Changing doctors can be a challenging process. Before you invest time figuring out how to switch doctors, it's important to analyze whether such a change is necessary. Here are 12 signs it's time to fire your doctor.

You and your doctor don't mesh.

You and your doctor don't need to see eye to eye on everything, but 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," says Washington, D.C.-based family physician Kenny Lin. "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.

Your physician doesn't respect your time.

Do you routinely wait an hour to see your physician, only to feel like he or she 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. 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 or her?

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 himself, or at least not to your satisfaction, at that point a doctor is bad," Lin says. It's also important he or she uses terms you understand, rather than complicated medical jargon; otherwise, explanations are meaningless. Your health is too important to feel confused or uninformed.

Your physician doesn't listen.

Does your doctor hear you out without interrupting? "It all comes down to communication and whether you feel like you're asking questions and they're not being answered," says Carolyn Clancy, the executive in charge, Veterans Health Administration in the Department of Veterans Affairs and former director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She recalls visiting a doctor for a second opinion on whether she should go through with a procedure recommended by her dentist. "He made a big leap – that I didn't want to have it done because I was afraid of the pain – and kept reassuring me that it was virtually pain-free. That's not what I was asking. After three rounds, I concluded that we weren't going to get to a productive place, and I didn't go back." Listening is one of the most important skills a physician can have, says Dr. Neel Anand, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “As physicians, we’re a busy bunch,” he says. “But our most important time is spent in a day is with our patients. If we don’t allow them to give us a complete picture of their overall health, we can’t help them effectively maximize it. 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.”

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, bad office staff could signal it's time to look elsewhere.

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 or her decisions and recommendations, even if you can't say exactly why is also a perfectly legitimate reason for cutting the cord, says Don Powell, president, and CEO of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, a nonprofit that promotes healthy behavior through wellness programs and publications. 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.

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 he or she is slacking, an important piece of your care could slip through the cracks.

Your doctor's unreachable.

A good doctor is available for follow-up questions and concerns. Patient advocate Trisha Torrey, founder of the Alliance of Professional Health advocates and author of "You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes," recalls the time her husband developed severe tooth pain on a weekend. His dentist's voicemail included a cell phone number and a promise of a quick response, but he never heard back. An emergency clinic visit and root canal later, he told his dentist she was fired. A growing number of doctors are making themselves available to patients via email, text message and Skype, and at the very least, you need to know that in an emergency, you won't be left hanging.

Your physician's rude or condescending.

If your physician has you wondering why are doctors so rude, it's time to part ways. The same goes if he or she trivialize your concerns as though they're not valid. One of the clearest signs you should move on is if he or she walks out of the room while you're still talking, Clancy says. That's what happened when her sister met with a surgeon to determine if her daughter should go through with a procedure. "When my sister finished asking her question, the doctor was gone," Clancy recalls. "She called me afterward and I told her, 'You have to find someone else. You'll regret it if you don't.'"

Your doctor's a reluctant learner.

Whether your doctor went to medical school three or 30 years ago, make sure you have access to his or her curriculum vitae. The CV, or resume, can provide you a great picture of how in touch your doctor is with medical advances, Anand says. For example, techniques to treat back pain have advanced in the last 30 years. “You want to make sure he is keeping pace,” Anand says. 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 or her specialty is, whether it's cardiovascular health or spinal conditions.

Review what other patients have said about doctors.

You can use online tools to see how others have rated a particular doctor. ProPublica’s Vital Signs database, for example, has a section that calculates death and complication rates for surgeons performing one of eight elective procedures in Medicare between 2009 and 2013. The site rates 16,019 surgeons. That’s not quite half of the 41,190 surgeons there were in the U.S. as of May 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthgrades.com has more than 6.8 million published reviews and ratings of doctors by patients, says Dr. Brad Bowman, chief medical officer of the website. Consumers can use Healthgrades to search profiles of more than 1.1 million physicians, including doctors in all specialties and sub-specialties nationwide. Healthgrades asks reviewers to consider these eight criteria when reviewing their doctor: ease of scheduling appointments; office environment, including cleanliness and comfort; staff friendliness and courteousness; total wait time, including the waiting room and exam rooms; level of trust in the physician's decisions; how well the provider explains medical conditions; how well the doctor listens and answers questions; and whether the physician spends the appropriate amount of time with patients.

Your physician's waiting room is a turn-off.

Your first impression of a doctor is formed when you walk into the waiting area of his or her office, says Mitra Silva, a medical interior designer and founder of LA Healthcare Design. "There are many waiting room clues that reflect a physician's approach and dedication to patient care," Silva says. "Are the tables littered with germ-ridden and outdated magazines? Are there fake plants present? Does a glass divider separate you and the receptionist? Some positive signs to look for are free Wi-Fi, living plants, a bright, open and inclusive seating arrangement and access to water or other refreshments. Essentially, a trip to the doctor should feel more like a restorative trip to the spa and less like a stint in a Petri dish. A doctor's office should reflect the work that goes on inside of it: healing." Research published in the Canadian Family Physician in 2013 found that a family physician's waiting room "is a key, yet neglected, a segment in health care and deserves more attention. Restructuring the waiting room and its role in health care is a potential way to improve patient and doctor satisfaction, as well as consultation efficiency."

4 Replies

Thank you for this. You just described 95% of all doctors in the Philippines. There is a saying here, med school in the Philippines doesn't teach doctors how to tell the time. My last nephro who was a complete douche (he was drinking coke while consulting me, at the same time mocking me for not being able to drink cola) has clinics at 3pm he shows us at 6pm. All I can say is he WAS my doctor and he is as disrespectful as they come.

rabbit01 profile image
rabbit01 in reply to RaviC

Wow! That is unbelievable. My first nephrologist was just plain lazy and I thought that was bad enough but he certainly would never mock me. With all due respect I am glad I don't live in the Philippines if that doctor was representative of medical car there.

RaviC profile image
RaviC in reply to rabbit01

And he was vice president of the "best hospital here". I'm going to Singapore first week January I heard doctors there have ethics

rabbit01 profile image
rabbit01 in reply to RaviC

My gosh, well you are certainly doing the right thing in going to Singapore. Best of luck. Do let us know how it goes.

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