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What To Do When You Have Concerns About Your Doctor

What To Do When You Have Concerns About Your Doctor

Sometimes, no matter how hard I have tried, I found that I had some concerns about my doctor. There have been times when I felt my questions weren’t being answered or I wasn’t being “heard” by my doctor. I remember one doctor in particular, just before my diagnosis, where I felt like I was being very open and cooperative with her diagnostic process but that she wasn’t really listening to what I was trying to tell her. After seeing her on three separate occasions I felt that I had done all I could do to foster an open relationship, but to no avail.

Is listening important?

What if your doctor is very good – experienced, reputable, skilled – does it really matter that they listen? In my experience, absolutely. If I don’t feel like I have been heard by my doctor, then I am afraid that I may end up incorrectly diagnosed, or not have the correct tests ordered for the symptoms that I am experiencing.

What can you do when you don’t feel like you are being heard?

Try questions- Instead of rattling off a laundry list of complaints, try asking a question. “How much can I expect this medicine to help me?” “What can I realistically expect?” This will help your doctor focus on you instead of getting through their overwhelming list of things to do.

Restate what you heard– Sometimes, at the doctor, I get so focused on conveying my question, my thoughts, my concerns, that I also forget to listen. Other times, I misinterpret what my doctor is trying to tell me. I have found that it is always worth the time and effort to use the phrase, “So what you are saying is…” Or I will restate what I understand to be the plan for my care. That way, if I didn’t correctly understand what the doctor was saying then any misunderstandings can be cleared up.

Ask for a double slot or consultation appointment-Depending on what part of the world you live in, you might be able to request a double appointment at the time your appointment is made. If you do run out of time and really feel as if you didn’t get your questions or concerns addressed, ask about the best way to contact them if you have questions before your next visit. I have found that some doctors are happy to accept questions through their nurse, others use electronic messaging systems like MyChart, or even email.

When should you find another doctor?

Like any good relationship, communication is key. If you have tried your best to make communication a two-way street, you have done your best to be a “good” patient, and you still feel like your doctor just isn’t working out for you, then you need to know when it is time to look elsewhere.

The three date rule

In my experience, I have found the “3 Date Rule” to be very effective. I give my doctor 3 appointments to decide if they are the right doctor for me. Everyone has bad days, limiting your decision to one appointment would give you an incomplete picture about your relationship with your doctor. It is possible that they were just having a bad day, were overbooked, or distracted for another reason. Three appointments allow the doctor to run tests, process the results, and meet with you for a follow-up and recommendations. If after that, you are unhappy it is my experience that at that time, you may want to consider a second opinion.

With psoriatic arthritis diagnosis and treatment, time is of the essence and no one wants to waste time with a doctor they don’t feel listens and understands their concerns.

I know, not everyone has the luxury of choice when it comes to their rheumatologist. You may live in a small town with only one or two options. Some people may have a health care system that doesn’t allow for choice. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim of poor care your whole life. Accept your options and work hard to foster open and honest communication with your doctor so you both can make the best decisions, after all your health is at stake and it is worth your while to make the best of a very difficult situation.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Eurotrekker
    2 years ago

    I have a doctor who is highly thought of among the medical community, or at least it seems. However, he is a real Jekyll & Hyde.. I am really beginning to think he is bi-polar or on drugs. Sometimes he seems nice. At other times he is the devil incarnate. I’m an easy going person and I believe my doctors know more than I do, at least when it comes to medical conditions. However, he has actually yelled at me when unprovoked. I had a friend with me, for a second set of ears, and she can vouch for it. He just started ranting and raving. It caught me totally off guard and I began to cry. My friend, who never cries, was getting so mad at him and keeping it in that she began to cry. I asked why he was being mean and he wouldn’t answer. The nurses and other patients could hear him through the walls. I left, but went to the director’s office to let her know what had happened. She did not seem surprised at all. (Later I found out that he has a tendency to get mad at the drop of the hat and fires his main nurse frequently. Then he needs her to come back, always offering a higher salary. She keys him fire her, gets a few days off, and then gets an increase in pay) As you can imagine, I was terrified of my next appointment. I took another friend, a nurse from another hospital. He thought he recognized her from some kind of medical conference. She didn’t give her name or her title. We think he believed her to be an investigator. He was super nice. Since then, it has been a hit and miss with him as to what personality I’ll get. I much prefer working with his nurses. I’m fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him since I’ve gone on Medicare, two years ago. I’ve been going to this doctor for over eight years, and hate changing. However, I believe I need to find someone new and start all over. I have heard of several patients who have quit him, because of how outbursts.

  • VickiN moderator
    2 years ago

    Eurotrekker, oh my gosh, that is terrible! It is hard enough navigating chronic illness with your medical team without needing to feel like you’re walking on eggshells to avoid an outburst. I know it is hard, but it really does sound like finding a new Rheumy is the best thing for you. You shouldn’t dread going to your appointments (anymore than we already dread it, that is!). I can understand people having bad days, but even on my worst days I don’t yell at my co-workers or customers.

    I hope the process of changing over goes smoothly for you and you find a great new Rheumatologist. Keep us posted! All the best,
    -Victoria, Community Moderator

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