20 Signs You Need a New Doctor
It may be time to find a new medical professional.
Not every doctor is created equal. Some may be the best in their field in terms of skills and knowledge, but they lack bedside manner. And others may be overly involved, blurring the line between professional and personal. Feel like your medical professional isn’t hearing you or simply isn’t a good fit? Here are 23 signs that indicate it’s time to seek a second opinion and get a new doctor.
You’re not being taken seriously.
Sometimes, you know in your gut that something is amiss, but test after test is inconclusive. If your doctor is dismissing your concerns and symptoms and leaning too heavily on levels and numbers, it’s time to find a new provider.
“Instead of being told that it’s ‘all in your head,’ a doctor [who] can’t help you should make a referral to a specialist, thereby assuring you that something can be done to address your problem,” says Dr. Yeral Patel, MD, a functional medicine practicing physician in Newport Beach, California.
Their behavior is patronizing or condescending.
If a doctor speaks to you as though you’re a child or you’re incapable of understanding what he or she is saying, it may be a warning sign that they don’t respect or value their patients and their opinions.
“While doctors are highly educated, they are not superior beings and should not treat patients as if they are,” Patel says. “A doctor-patient conversation should be respectful, informative, and two-ways, no matter how grave the news or how difficult the diagnosis.”
They don’t make eye contact.
Lack of eye contact during your appointments is one of the surefire signs you need a new doctor. In fact, Patel says that many of her patients have told her that when a doctor doesn’t look them in the eye and instead looks at a screen or is typing during the duration of their visit, they don’t feel heard.
“In medicine, it’s really important to show compassion, and if you’re not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with [your] doctor, see another one,” Patel advises.
They’re a bad listener.
Similarly, Dr. Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, California, emphasizes the importance of a doctor’s ability to actively listen to your concerns.
“If you’ve waited forever to see this provider and they’ve given you five minutes of consultation, much of which was spent typing in your medical record versus looking at you, it may be time to reconsider whether this is the right provider for you,” Anand says.
They seem distracted.
If you have to constantly repeat yourself or your doctor disregards your concerns, it’s probably time to move on. “Doctors often have many things going on at once, [but] when they are speaking to the patient, that’s where the focus should be,” says Dr. Anthony Kouri, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Although your doctor may already have an idea regarding your problem, Kouri notes that he or she should listen to all your concerns before weighing in. “Just because your doctor is busy or has or things on his or her mind… that’s not an excuse to be dismissive or inattentive,” he says.
They’re annoyed when you ask questions.
If a doctor you’re seeing for an extended period of time consistently brushes off your questions, you should instead find someone who’s a better fit. “You’re paying the doctor for his or her services. If you have important questions that he or she is acting annoyed by, it may be time to move on,” says Kouri.
Or they can’t properly answer your questions.
A physician should be willing to take the time to answer all of your questions in non-technical terms, says Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, MD, director of research in adult reconstruction and joint replacement at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “If you feel rushed or believe your questions have not been answered in a satisfactory manner, look for another physician,” he says.
Their staff is unpleasant.
Since you often deal with doctors’ staff members more than with the doctors themselves, Kouri says it’s important that they treat you well, too. “If you’re consistently treated poorly by the receptionist or the nurses in the clinic, it may not be the place for you,” he says. “If you overhear the staff speaking poorly of other patients or you hear of other patients complaining, it may be time to move on to another doctor.”
However, if you like your doctor but not their staff, try speaking directly to your doctor about the matter. “The doctor may be unaware of the staff’s mistreatment of patients and may appreciate you bringing it to his or her attention,” Kouri says.
Or they provide inaccurate information.
Because a doctor’s staff members are the main connection between them and their patients, it’s important that these employees are able to provide accurate information at all times, according to Dr. Velimir Petkov, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist at Premier Podiatry in Clifton, New Jersey.
“A close friend of mine recently scheduled to see her doctor of eight years [on a Friday],” Petkov noted. “Once she arrived for her appointment, she was examined by a nurse practitioner … She inquired as to whether her doctor had an emergency or a personal day off and was told the doctor just never goes to her office on Fridays. The staff had simply failed to mention that to the patient over the phone.”
Seeing as many people only feel comfortable seeing their physician, patients should be informed of those kind of staffing situations ahead of time.
They’re always trying to sell you something.
In recent years, some physicians have started to sell products like vitamins, botanicals, and dietary products through their practice and via other channels. “Not all of these activities are unethical, but they can be if it interferes with evidence-based medicine and it turns the physician into a salesperson,” Kouri explains. If your doctor tries to push you to buy a product you’re unsure about, he suggests either seeking a second opinion or finding a new doctor entirely.
Or they push expensive (and questionable) treatments.
Dr. Daniel Paul, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and founder and CEO of Easy Orthopedics, also advises staying away from doctors who push expensive treatments that have little evidence behind them. The right doctor will stick with treatments that are tried and true and well within your price range.
And they dismiss cost concerns.
Not every patient can afford the best and most innovative treatments. Therefore, Dr. Matthew J. Marano Jr., MD, an ophthalmologist in Livingston, New Jersey, says it’s a red flag if your doctor doesn’t take your financial situation into account when prescribing medication and putting together treatment plans.
They’re not up-to-date on treatment options.
Doctors should also be up-to-date and informed on the latest medical treatments and studies. “If they’re close-minded about treatments that are new,” Marano suggests switching providers.
Your phone calls go unreturned.
Whether big or small, if you call your doctor with a question or concern, they owe you the courtesy of a response. Marano says that if your doctor fails to return your calls, it’s time to find someone new.
They’re constantly behind schedule.
Unexpected things can come up at a physician’s office and running a bit behind schedule isn’t uncommon. But Petkov says that if you’re consistently forced to wait an hour or more, consider whether or not your doctor actually values your time. “Some doctors’ offices regularly double or even triple-book slots in their schedules—and that’s just not right,” he says.
They don’t communicate well with other doctors.
“Every physician that you see should be able to effectively communicate with all the other doctors on your health care team,” says Petkov. Proper communication includes everything from sending reports and imaging results in a timely manner to forwarding along recommendations and treatment instructions. “Failure to do so can result in having an important piece of your health history missing,” Petkov explains.
They have a “plan” before assessing you.
Dr. Drew Miller, MD, a practicing family physician in Lakin, Kansas, says that if your physician “comes in with ‘the plan’ before listening to [your] history and performing an exam,” it’s a sign that you should probably find a new provider.
You’re just not on the same page.
It’s important to find a doctor who you’re compatible with and someone you can feel confident in. “If it seems that you and your doctor are speaking past each other, or [are] not on the same page in terms of treatment philosophy, then you may want to start seeing other people,” says Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, DDS, a double-board-certified dentist at GLO Modern Dental in Los Angeles, California.
They give you unsolicited advice about your personal life.
If your doctor starts getting too personal—and ignores the professional—you may want to move on. For example, Reddit user @strugglebusdriver437 told her doctor that her libido had “tanked” and asked if it might be related to her birth control pills. The doctor’s response? She had been with the same guy for two years and should probably break up with him if she wanted her libido to return to normal.
“Thankfully I did not take that advice. I got a new doctor, got an IUD to replace the pills, and kept the boyfriend,” the Redditor wrote, noting that her libido is now back to normal.
They hand out prescriptions like candy.
No doctor should be handing out prescriptions to people who don’t actually need them. If you go to the doctor’s office and they prescribe you Vicodin for a sprained pinky, it’s probably time to find someone more competent. And to make sure you’re getting the best diagnosis possible, stay on top of the 20 Things Your Doctor Is Likely to Get Wrong.
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