Chronic Illness Articles

March 4, 2009

10 Situations When You Should Ignore Your Doctor’s Advice

by Lisa Copen

doctor-clipboardWe will never find the perfect doctor, as they are all human and none of them are perfect. It comes as no surprise to most of us that they call their profession “the practice of medicine.” One of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States is medical mistakes.

The Institute of Medicine calculates that, due to medical mistakes, anywhere from 44,000 to 98,000 people actually die in hospitals in the U.S. each year. This is more than from motor vehicle accidents or breast cancer.

We all need doctors, however, despite their mistakes and when you have a chronic health condition, it is is especially vital that you have a doctor who you feel is a partner with you in your medical care for both the short and long term.

Are there some distinct signals that you should actually not listen to your doctor’s advice, and that you should seek another opinion, or perhaps even switch physicians? Yes!

1. Your doctor is quick to speak and slow to listen, rarely hearing all of your symptoms or asking questions about them. He quickly records his interpretation of what you are saying before you have begun to explain your symptoms or the situation.

2. Your doctor is persistent about prescribing medicines that are recently available. He does not explain what the medication is, why you need it, how will help your situation, long-term effects, or if there is a plan to get you off of it. You can see the promotional items for the medication around his office.

3. Your doctor seems to know much less about your condition that you do. Your appointments consist of you informing him about your condition’s progression or treatment ideas and him taking notes.

4. Your doctor appears to lack confidence about his ability to care for you effectively, seldom giving you medical advice or directions. Instead, he seems to tell you to do whatever you believe is best or asks, “Well, what do you think we should do in this case?”

5. Your doctor is quick to order tests or procedures that could impact your current health or your chronic illness in a negative way. He forgets that intrusive procedures that may be minor for some people could cause set backs in your illness. The best physician always keeps your whole body and condition in mind, not just the part he specializes in.

6. Your doctor seems to give you that look like he is humoring you. When you describe something you read, or ask a question about a new treatment you have heard about, he looks at you with skepticism and a smile and then writes some notes. It feels condescending.

7. When you ask for copies of medical records, he goes out of his way to not get them directly into your hands, preferring to send them only to other physicians. It is important to know what is in your medical records in case you apply for disability assistance at some time and social security disability review doctors want to review your files.

8. Your doctor is rarely available when you need his expertise the most. When you need to make an appointment at the last minute for a special reason, he is not available. He is late in approving refills for prescription medications. His office does not return calls and if you page him after hours for an emergency he doesn’t call back for a long time.

9. Your doctor is doubtful that you are having the severity of pain that you describe to him. He is hesitant about prescribing you pain medication, even though your pain level justifies it and you have proven to be a responsible patient with your medications.

10. Your doctor seems to appear threatened or annoyed when you wish to get a second opinion or see a different kind of specialist. He does not comply when you ask him to fax his notes to another physician who should be in the loop of your treatment. He seems to think he is the only one who can meet your medical needs.

A good doctor will listen to you as much as possible, take good notes, explain medications, and make you feel like you are part of your medical team in treating any conditions or symptoms you may have.

We may never find the perfect doctor, and it may take a while to find someone who is a good match for both our medical condition and our personality. But don’t allow your health to be risked just because you are too afraid to speak out and be assertive about your health care needs.
This article is by Lisa Copen and can be reprinted at no cost, if you leave everything exactly “as is” including this footer. Read Lisa’s newest book, Why Cant I Make People Understand? Order at Subscribe to a great weekly ezine HopeNotes and get a free download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend. And tune in to Lisa’s weekly podcast at Hope Endures Radio at the web site. Lots of support is available!



  1. In the 2 dozen docs I’ve had over this past 10 years of my 2 near death’s, no one has had an ink (or paint or chalk) of what is going on inside me and why I am the way I am with seizures that take up to 3 minutes where i can’t talk, drive (don’t do that at all now), think and so on. I’m now on 17 pills a day (down from 25, praise God!!!) and use them as best I can for sleep, seizure’s, anxiety, enrgy, vitamins (Juice Plus of course) and so me other stuff. rarely go oput sine walking hurts due to damage to muscle and such, so I make the best of whgat I have and what i am and praise God for a w.w. (wonderful wife) who has been with me for over 33 years. I read the Word through each year, books, mags and such as best I can since “I do all things through Him who strengthens me”!!!!

    Comment by (brother) Greg (Parker) — May 20, 2009 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  2. […] Tips for using Twitter as a pain log (also advice on when to ignore your doctor) […]

    Pingback by Your internet has a drugs « It’s Alive!! — June 15, 2009 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

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