7 Signs It’s Time to Dump Your Doctor
If you aren’t getting the health care you need and deserve, it may be time to move on
An unhappy relationship with your doctor can be as hazardous to your health as a bad marriage. It can also be as complicated to end, especially if you’re second-guessing yourself. Here are seven reasons it might be time to end it with your doc:
1. The staff is rude. The nurse rolls her eyes at your fear of needles. The receptionist snaps when you don’t have exact change for your copay. “The doctor sets the tone for the office,” says Gabrielle Farkas, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist in training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY. “Don’t hesitate to tell him if you’re treated disrespectfully by one of his staff.” If he’s unapologetic or defensive, or you encounter the same treatment at your next visit, it might be time to move on. You shouldn’t leave a doctor’s office feeling worsethan when you walked in.
2. She’s always late, always rushing, or both. If a doctor routinely leaves you stranded half-naked in an exam room or speeds through checkups without giving you a chance to ask questions, “you aren’t getting the kind of attention you should,” says Farkas. It’s not acceptable for a doctor to not return a phone call, either. “It’s unrealistic to expect doctors to be available 24/7, but they should respond to patient’s messages within a reasonable amount of time.”
3. He’s judgmental. At your last exam, your doctor suggested you lose a few pounds. Instead, you’ve gained some. If you’re feeling embarrassed or even afraid of being scolded, it’s not a good sign. Even if you haven’t exactly followed your doctor’s orders, “you should always feel comfortable going in to see him,” says Farkas. “If you find yourself putting off appointments, then you aren’t in a supportive doctor-patient relationship. It should be one that’s gently and consistently encouraging.”
4. She doesn’t involve you in decision-making. There’s often more than one way to treat an ailment, says Farkas. If your doctor merely dictates which way to go, she might be overlooking some factors that may matter to you, such as recovery time or expense.
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5. He’s wishy-washy. “One challenge doctors have these days is patients’ ability to Google medical conditions. They’ll often try to figure out what they have and what should be done about it,” Farkas notes. “I’ve seen instances where a doctor feels a certain test isn’t necessary, but the patient’s family keeps pushing for it, and so the doctor gives in against his better judgment. You need a physician who includes you and loved ones in discussions, but who also is confident in his own expertise.”
6. You can’t imagine talking to her about a butt rash… or your super-sweaty armpits, or the fact that you’ve been extra gassy lately. “Sensitive topics that are uncomfortable to discuss require a certain rapport,” says Farkas. “You need to feel easy with your doctor. That’s the only way your questions will get asked and answered, and you will get the important information you need.”
7. The chemistry just isn’t there. No matter how well his office is run, how smoothly appointments go, even how attentive he is, if your gut tells you that this doctor simply isn’t the right one for you, don’t hesitate to move on. Even if you can’t quite put your finger on why, if you don’t feel totally certain you’re getting the care you want or deserve there’s nothing wrong with searching further for it.