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Know when you need to fire your Doctor

Posted by gnn1 on Thursday, 16 August 2007

I try not to just copy and paste full articles. But this one is very important and I just think you need the whole thing.

Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Medical News correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care.

Five years ago, when he started seeing his internist, everything was fine. But Groopman says that in time, the internist became more popular — and hence more busy and harried — right when Groopman needed him most.

“I have a strong family history of high cholesterol and heart disease. Every male in my family has had a [heart attack] in his 50s and 60s,” he says. “I was moving into middle age, and I just didn’t feel that my doctor was looking at me as an individual, and taking those factors into account.”

But Groopman — a physician and author of four books about doctors and patients — found it difficult to leave his internist of five years. “It sounds strange, but I didn’t want to insult him.”

Groopman is not alone. “I really think it’s a fear of the unknown,” says Robin DiMatteo, a researcher at the University of California at Riverside who’s studied doctor-patient communication. “But if the doctor isn’t supporting your healing or health, you should go.”

Here are five ways to know when it’s time to think about leaving your doctor, and the best way to do it.

1. When your doctor doesn’t like it when you ask questions

Groopman says after the publication of his book “How Doctors Think,” a reader contacted him with her story. “She was seeing an orthopedic surgeon for back pain, and when she asked a question, his response was ‘Since when did you get an M.D.?'” Groopman says. “That kind of response is just about a deal breaker.”

2. When your doctor doesn’t listen to you

Debra Roter, a behavioral scientist at Johns Hopkins and co-author of “Doctors Talking with Patients,” says it’s a red flag when your doctor doesn’t pay attention to what you have to say. “A doctor suggested my friend take a certain drug, but she’d taken it before and she told him it hadn’t worked for her,” she says. “But her doctor wanted her to try it anyway. He didn’t give her any credibility.”

3. If your doctor can’t explain your illness to you in terms you understand

“It’s really important that a physician be able to communicate in plain speak and plain language,” Roter says. “A doctor has to be able to explain things so you can put the information to use to take good care of yourself.”

4. If you feel bad when you leave your doctor’s office

DiMatteo says sometimes you just have to go with your gut. “For example, if a patient says, ‘My pain is still there,’ and the doctor says, ‘It shouldn’t be — this treatment works for other people,’ and you walk out of the office feeling badly, I don’t think you should stay.”

5. If you feel your doctor just doesn’t like you — or if you don’t like him or her

“Sometimes there’s chemistry and people click right away, and there are some people you don’t click with,” Roter says. “If your gut says you’re not crazy about your doctor, they probably aren’t crazy about you, and that’s not good.”

Groopman agrees. He says a doctor who doesn’t like a patient often stereotypes him or her. “I was terribly guilty of this as a young doctor. One of my patients said she had indigestion, and I got very irritated with her, and thought she was a whiner and a complainer,” he says. “It was catastrophic because she actually had a torn aorta.”

The woman died. “I have never forgiven myself for failing to diagnose it,” he writes in “How Doctors Think.” “There was a chance she could have been saved.”

So once you’ve decided it might be time to divorce your doctor, how do you do it? First of all, make sure whatever’s bothering you isn’t just a one-time thing. “Make sure it’s not just a quirk of the doctor’s day,” Groopman says. “Maybe they’re just having a bad day.”

If the problems continue, Groopman, Roter, and DiMatteo agree it’s best to try to express your dissatisfaction instead of just bolting. “Use the first person plural, such as ‘We’re not communicating well’ as opposed to ‘You seem distracted or irritable with me,'” suggests Groopman. “That may cause cause the physician to stop and reflect and shift gears.”

When it doesn’t, you can be sure it’s time to get another doctor, Roter says. She described two friends who wrote letters to their doctor saying they were unhappy with some of the treatments they’d received. “The both got back letters saying, ‘Good luck with your new doctor.’

I have had a doctor from hell. He was actually my psychiatrist, one of the worst doctors to have to have problems with, I think. He disagreed with everything from my treatment plan from the hospital, at discharge, to the medications I took.

He didn’t like when I asked questions; he told me (not asked me) that he was going to change my meds than got angry when I refused. He didn’t listen to me. So from the above list, I experienced 1, 2, 4, and 5. I probably would’ve had 4 but for the fact that I know my illness quite well.

He also has a God complex; he apparently thinks that MD=GOD.

I wound up in hospital twice because of him. (I didn’t want to leave his office because my therapist was there and I worked well with her).

Trust me, I speak from experience, if you have a doctor like this, and it does not matter what specialty-find a new one. You will be so much better for it.

Source: CNN


2 Responses to “Know when you need to fire your Doctor”

  1. malissa said

    To CNN News,

    Hi, this is my situation. . My son went into the emergency at on July 9th for serious infection on feet. I had asked for blood tests and culture which were refused because he did not have a high fever. They prescribed antibiotics instead. They recommended I go see a Pediatrician who could prescribe blood tests and get second opinion.

    On July 11, 2007 I took my son (still sick) to see a
    Pediatrician at Denver Health Hospital. I had asked if he could do a thorough blood check on my 15 year old son who has been constantly sick. I told him that the reason I was there was because on top of asthma and allergies my son has something else and why was he getting infections and
    constantly sick. Thus, I wanted a yearly physical exam with blood tests, urine.
    He would not honor my request after I had repeatedly said over and over again why I needed it but he did not listen to me, kept on explaining what asthma was (I have been educated on this since my son was 2 thank you) and he insisted that it was asthma and
    allergies and that my son was not controlling his asthma right.
    He kept on insisting that my son be on steroid. Advair was one of them. What did the article say about Advair? That it was making asthma worse or people had died from it? Like all moms am I going to give that to my son again after he had taken it 2 years ago and found himself sicker than ever? I never understood why my son after taking that medicine got so sick, his skin was worse than ever. Sick week after week in school missed so many days of school. The doctor denied anything wrong with advair and so he prescribed another steroid. I refused.
    And said that if I would give my son 2 months of steroid and then we will see. Until then, if he deemed that blood tests would be necessary then he would prescribed it. I was more than upset that I had to feel helpless. He did not give me any options. I refused to take the prescription and told him that I am not happy about this and that I was going to look for another doctor.

    On July 17, 2007 a social worker came knocking on my door saying that she had a medical abuse report. She asked to come in to investigate and interviewed my 3 kids. My kids looked at me and asked, mom is she going to take us away?? I reassured them no. When I told her about how I take care of my kids and after she had interviewed the 3 of them, she concluded
    and told me flat out that “I don’t see any medical abuse, neither any
    signs of abuse of any sort” OF COURSE!!! My house was clean, and my
    kids are well taken care of day and night. Who is abusing who I
    wonder? The doctor gave me no options but wants to force me to take
    his prescription and when I don’t take it I am medically abusing my
    child? He should know that I have all the rights to refuse medication.
    It is my right! The social worker asked several times if I would consider working with the doctor. Are you kidding?!!
    Today, August 28, the social worker knocked on my
    door this evening while I was out grocery shopping with my daughter
    13 years old. I left my 15 year old and my 10 year old home. My 10
    year old son opened the door while the 15 year old was sleeping in his room.
    She took advantage of my son’s trust (since my son remembered her from her last visit) and entered into the privacy of my home!!
    HOW can this be??

    I am very upset and so are my children. The privacy of my home is now being intruded. Do you have suggestions for me?

    This is outrageous. Please help me. I am so upset that my life and my children’s lives are now being intruded??? What next? will she be standing outside my door whenever she wants?

    here is the letter I wrote to her:


    This evening while I was out grocery shopping you came and entered my household illegally. My special needs child Andy opened the door for you when he should not have opened it for anyone. Why did you enter my home without me being there and talking to my kids? Now my children are all very frightened. Per our conversation on July 19 when you were at my house, you interviewed my kids and you made it clear that there was no sign of abuse whatsoever with my children.

    So, please tell me the reason for your visit again and will there be any further visits illegally by you or your department?


    I need a lawyer to help me.

    If this doctor does that to me and my family, who does he think he is? He will certainly do that to many other people.

    Thank you for your quick response..

  2. gnn1 said

    Malissa, I have contacted you back via the email you provided when you posted.

    GNN – Gossip n News

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