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Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor

Finding a doctor you’re comfortable with and who offers great care can be hard to come by. Even if you’re not too thrilled with your physician, it can be difficult to break away and find a new one. However, there sometimes comes a point when it becomes obvious it’s necessary to move on and seek medical care elsewhere.

Here are some signs you should fire your doctor.

Your doctor is dismissive

Does your doctor care? | Monkeybusinessimages/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

Although your physician is well educated, he or she should still listen to you when you have health concerns. If your doctor regularly brushes you off and doesn’t take you seriously, this is a problem. Unfortunately, encountering a dismissive doctor isn’t uncommon.

Oncologist Ethan Basch found this even occurs during clinical drug trials. He writes in the New England Journal of Medicine that some physicians tend to reduce the severity of patients’ symptoms. He also found patients’ reports of their symptoms often unveil side effects missed by physicians.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

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A doctor’s dismissive attitude could be dangerous. Downplaying symptoms could lead him or her to misdiagnose your or fail to order necessary tests. In his report on clinical drug trials, Dr. Basch said focusing on patients’ self-reports could help identify problems earlier and prevent trouble down the road. Said Dr. Basch: “Clinicians’ failure to note these symptoms results in the occurrence of preventable adverse events.”

Next: This should make you pause.

You don’t trust your doctor

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It’s important to be comfortable enough with your physician that you’ll be truthful about your health situation and confident enough to follow directions. A ZocDoc survey found roughly 46% of Americans avoided telling their doctor about a health issue because they were embarrassed or fearful of being judged. If you’re uncomfortable with your doctor and find yourself omitting important health information or doubting your doctor’s recommendations, it might be time for a change.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

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If you don’t trust your doctor, chances are you won’t follow his or her treatment plan. A research paper published in Health Affairs reported a study by the Stanford School of Medicine found roughly 62% of patients with high levels of trust always take medications as prescribed and comply with doctor’s recommendations. Just 14% of those with low levels of trust follow doctor’s orders. Trying to treat yourself or ignoring instructions could worsen your condition or cause physical harm.

Next: Run, don’t walk if your doctor does this.

Your doctor makes a significant error

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Mistakes happen, but when it’s a life-or-death situation, there’s little room for error. In a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and the American College of Surgeons, 8.9% of U.S. surgeons said they believe they made a significant medical mistake within the last three months. Approximately 1.5% of respondents said they believe their mistake led to a patient’s death, according to lead researcher Tait Shanafelt.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

Doctor with a patient | Jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images

If your doctor makes a major mistake, you might not survive. Sadly, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins study. Heart disease and cancer take the top two spots.

Furthermore, the Johns Hopkins study found medical errors are an unrecognized cause of death. Said Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H. in the Johns Hopkins report:

Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics. The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used.

Next: Phone tag

It’s usually difficult to get in touch with your doctor

Woman talking to her doctor | Nensuria/iStock/Getty Images

There are times when you’ll need to contact your doctor’s office in between visits. However, some physicians are difficult to reach. You might leave several messages and never get a call back. This can be frustrating if you have an important question, need a medication refilled, or you’re experiencing troubling symptoms. Your only contact with your doctor in between visits shouldn’t be an endless game of phone tag.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

Woman with her doctor | DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images

Difficulty reaching your doctor could lead to significant treatment delay and result in your condition getting worse. If you reach a point where you need to seek treatment at your local urgent care center or emergency room, this means you’ll take a bigger financial hit. Finding a doctor who is available will save you time, money, and prevent an illness from getting out of hand.

Next: The clock is ticking.

Your doctor doesn’t respect your time

Family at the doctor’s office | bowdenimages/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes it can feel like you’re waiting at the doctor’s office forever. You arrive on time (or early) for your appointment, but one hour later you’re still sitting there, waiting to be seen. Once you’re finally called in to meet with the doctor, he or she rushes through the appointment and then sends you on your way. If your doctor is chronically running late and your appointments are usually rushed, it’s a good idea to look for a new physician.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

Man checking his watch | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Chances are you don’t have an infinite amount of time on your hands. You have work, school, family, and other obligations to attend to. Furthermore, the doctor’s chronic lateness shows a lack of respect not only for you but also your time. Instead of silently stewing or complaining to anyone who will listen, find a doctor who is a better fit for your schedule.

Next: Don’t put up with this behavior.

Your doctor is rude

Woman is talking to her doctor | iStock/Getty Images

Do you feel like a child whenever you interact with your doctor? Although it’s not necessary for you to like your doctor, he or she should have a decent bedside manner. It’s never OK for your doctor to be condescending, yell at you, or go out of his or her way to make you feel uncomfortable. You deserve to be treated with care and respect. Don’t put up with a doctor who mistreats you.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

Doctor writing a prescription |

If your doctor is rude, this is a good reason to start looking for someone else to help manage your care. You’re paying hard-earned money for a service. If you aren’t being treated well, it’s time to take your business elsewhere. If your doctor can’t take the time to treat you with respect, what makes you think he or she will provide the best care? A bad attitude is unprofessional and should not be tolerated.

Next: This is your life, not theirs.

Your doctor doesn’t want you to get a second opinion

Man with a doctor |

If you received a diagnosis and you’re not sure what the next step should be, it’s always a good idea to seek a second opinion. It’s a red flag if your physician seemed insulted or threatened by your desire to speak to another medical professional about your case. This is your life, not theirs, and you should be free to seek the care you need. Get a second or even a third opinion if it helps you decide on the best plan of action.

Next: Here’s why this is a problem.

Why this is a problem

Woman talking to her doctor | Ridofranz/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

A second opinion could save your life. Doctors aren’t perfect, and they can miss things. A second opinion could help confirm a diagnosis or uncover an illness your doctor wasn’t aware of. Your physician should encourage you to consult with another doctor and he or she should be willing to provide a referral. Be leery of any physician who insists you only rely on his or her opinion.

Next: This is how you find a new doctor. 

How to fire your doctor

Woman in a doctor’s office | daizuoxin/iStock/Getty Images

Before you leave in a huff, make sure you have another doctor lined up. If you happen to get sick before you find a replacement, this could pose a problem because you’ll have to quickly find a new doctor while you’re ill. Depending on why you’re leaving, you might also want to speak to your doctor’s office manager and explain what is prompting you to leave. If it’s a serious issue, he or she will want to know about it. “Many practices would want to know if one of their providers isn’t doing a good job, especially if the problem is severe enough to drive you elsewhere,” Michael Prameko, former president of the Colorado Medical Society, told The Washington Post.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of possible doctors, make sure to check their credentials and patient reviews. “You can check a doctor’s credentials at the American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder website. The site lists physicians’ degrees, training, board certifications, and hospital admitting privileges,” reports The Washington Post. Finally, don’t forget to have your medical records sent to your new physician.

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