Chronic Illness Articles

July 13, 2009

10 Reasons When it Makes Good Sense to Fire Your Doctor

Police Clipboard showing several compartments ...
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by Lisa Copen

We 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.

Regardless of whether you are generally healthy, or live with a chronic illness, you still need a physician you can trust. Though an occasional small mistake may occur, it is especially important that you have a doctor who is eager to be part of your medical team for both short-term and long-term treatment.

Are there some sure signs you shouldn’t listen to your doctor and you should seek a second opinion, or maybe even shop around for a new physician? Definitely!

1. Your doctor does not listen to all of your symptoms or ask questions about them. He is quick to write down his interpretation when you have not fully been able to explain yourself.

2. Your doctor is determined to prescribe medications that have just been approved by the F.D.A., even though you are hesitant about trying something new. He doesn’t explain what the medication will treat, and why it’s important for your condition. He doesn’t explain short or long term side effects or any plan to get you off of it. Promotional items for these medications are visible around the office, from notepads to clocks.

3. Your doctor seems to know a lesser amount of information about your condition that you do. You often feel like your appointments are just times when you show up and inform him of your well-being and what is new about your condition, and he takes 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. Your doctor isn’t open with you about the medical records he has kept about you. When you request copies of your records, he may be willing to fax them to another physician but seems to try to avoid you getting them into your hands. One reason it’s vital to be aware of what is in your medical records is in case you submit an application for disability aid at some time and social security disability review doctors wish to examine your records.

8. Your doctor is never available when you need him. When you have an emergency he cannot get you in for an appointment immediately. Your prescriptions aren’t refilled on time. He doesn’t call you back when you have an urgent situation and must page him.

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 is never open to consulting other medical professionals or faxing his notes over to your other physicians. He thinks he can solve all of your medical needs and feels threatened when you want to consult with another source, specialist, or someone else on your medical team.

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 physician, and we may visit a few doctors who have been referred to us before we find the best fit for our medical needs and a good personality fit. But don’t sacrifice your well-being simply because you are afraid of hurting the feelings of a doctor by leaving him and seeking your care somewhere else.

Read Lisa’s newest book, Why Cant I Make People Understand? Order at WhyCantIMakePeopleUnderstand.com Subscribe to a great weekly ezine HopeNotes and download free 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.

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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 WhyCantIMakePeopleUnderstand.com 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!

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