When your doctor walks into your room with that white coat on and clipboard or tablet in hand, it can be easy to forget who pays his salary… YOU! So that means you get the right to fire them if they are not doing the best job possible for you. Today I want to dive into a few red flags to pay attention to that might mean it’s time to fire your doctor and find a new one.
I want to start by saying I believe most doctors enter the profession with noble intentions. They are often sincere in their quest to help their patients. However, they are also molded by an education system that is corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry. Their practice is often dictated by what is reimbursable by insurance. So good intentions are often just not enough.
So when can you tell that it’s time to fire your doctor and find a new one?
When Your Doctor Uses a Prescription Pad Without Lifestyle Recommendations
Patient education is a huge need in any healthcare setting. When a patient understands what can help prevent sickness and manage symptoms, they will be able to actively participate in their own health journey.
A doctor who fails to provide basic health information often is one who assumes that the patient will not follow through with lifestyle changes. This assumption could literally shave years off of your life because you just weren’t told that you could do something differently.
When Your Doctor Uses a Cookie Cutter Approach
This one is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. My children have a pediatrician at a group practice and have seen one of the other doctors during sick visits a few times. The second or third visit with this particular doctor I realized that this soon-to-be-retired physician had developed a 5 minute speech which he delivered to almost every parent he interacted with.
His speech technically provided some valuable patient education but when I acknowledged my understanding of the information, he didn’t stop the speech. He also included poor education encouraging me to provide my kids with “anything cold” to soothe their sore throats including a long list of sugar filled junk.
This speech from the pediatrician was more a waste of time than a danger, but it could have been so much worse! In patients with a complicated medical history, it could mean overlooking your context and writing inappropriate prescriptions that could be life threatening!
When Your Doctor Ignores or Discounts Side Effects You Experience
Drugs are known to have side effects. They aren’t natural and they are filled with chemical junk. But they are sometimes necessary.
Side effects are very real to you when you are the one taking the drug. But some doctors just don’t take them very seriously. This is a sign that your doctor does not believe you or want to deal with the frustration of treating you. Do both of you a favor and go find someone else who takes your side effects seriously!
When Your Doctor Cannot Say “I Don’t Know”
This is a dangerous one! Doctors are ideally supposed to be scientists of the human body. They are supposed to ask questions, do research, learn, and grow their skills over time. If a doctor always seems to have an answer for everything – even when it seems they are saying words without any real meaning – you need to fire that doctor immediately. When you really need an expert, you want one that knows his or her limits and can call around for collaboration instead of “practicing” on you!
When Your Doctor Talks Over You and Doesn’t Wait for Questions
This is similar to a doctor who cannot admit not knowing an answer. A doctor who uses big words and doesn’t wait for questions tends to be afraid of the questions you might ask.
Sometimes this is because they just have terrible social skills and do not want to engage in active patient care (this can be especially common in surgeons!) But it can also be a sign of insecurity of knowledge. They might be afraid you will ask a question they don’t know and are not prepared to handle so they talk over your head and leave before you can form any hard questions to answer.
When Your Doctor is Not Following Basic Health Advice
I’m not sure about you, but when I see a doctor who is morbidly obese it just feels wrong. How is that person going to help me take care of my body? Perhaps you have a different opinion, but for me, this is a no go. I need a medical professional who lives out the advice that they are giving out… and doing so with visible success!
After Firing Your Doctor
I want to be clear that I do not recommend firing your doctor without finding a replacement. You need to find a primary medical professional you feel comfortable with to be your go to when you face illness or have an injury.
Get Clear on What You Want in a Physician
What is important to you in a primary physician?
Is it important that he or she be local? Because telehealth via skype or phone calls are an option too.
Is it important that your physician have some expertise in a particular area of health you are interested in? For example, if you have a family history of heart disease you might be motivated to find someone who commonly educates on prevention of heart disease.
When you know what you want you can start looking.
Keep Looking Until You Find a Health Partner
Doctors were originally thought of as teachers of medical information to the general public. They were not given all the power that they have now. They were meant to empower you to make the best choices possible for your own health journey.
Keep looking until you find a physician that truly feels like a health partner to you. Your health is important, so don’t compromise or waste your time with a doctor that is not worthy of your time or your business. Remember, the healthcare industry is shaped in part by how we as consumers decide is important to us! Use that power wisely – for yourself and the good of everyone else coming behind you!