The doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct – we all realize that. Our physicians generally know more about us, inside and out, than any other human being. When the relationship is healthy, it is characterized by a sound sense of trust and a high degree of mutuality and openness. A patient in a strong relationship with his or her physician feels listened to, valued and cared for.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
But what if all those good vibes from your doctor are missing? When is it time to say good-bye and to fire your doctor? Because we at AgingOptions encounter this question frequently, and because we (as you might suspect) have strong feelings about the matter, we were immediately drawn to this brand-new article from the aging-related website NextAvenue. The title says it all: “9 Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor.” Not all physicians are right for all patients, writes author Hilary Thompson, and because that’s true you should be on the lookout for these telltale signs that it’s time to search for a new MD.
Before we take a look at these nine warning signs, we feel the urge to share some perspective. It does seem to us that older patients tend to trust their doctors more implicitly than younger patients do, and that seniors tend, as a rule, to be more compliant and less skeptical. It is helpful to remember that you as a patient are a consumer, purchasing medical care from the doctor of your choice. If you feel you’re being ignored or patronized, you owe it to yourself and your family to find someone else to serve as your primary care physician. For older adults our strong recommendation at AgingOptions is to select a geriatrician to serve in that capacity: thanks to their training, these geriatric physicians have a much more complete understanding of the needs of seniors than most doctors do, and they will generally take the time to listen and respond with care and empathy. Please do yourself a favor and contact our office so we can refer you to a geriatrician who practices in your area.
Watch for These Red Flags
Now, what are the “red flags” that NextAvenue says should send you to the exit door of your current medical clinic? Here they are:
- You don’t feel heard. “Your doctor should listen – really listen – to all of your concerns,” says author Hilary Thompson. “If you want to discuss your heart disease risks and your family’s cancer history and all your doctor wants to talk about is your hearing, there is a major disconnect that may not be bridgeable.” Active listening is the key.
- You have a serious personality conflict. It’s important that you have a doctor you at least get along with. “Would you want someone you can’t stand operating on you or making major medical decisions for you, despite the fact this person may be talented? For some, this is a deal-breaker,” Thompson says.
- Your doctor is “too stretched to serve you.” Your health is your single most valuable asset, and if you can’t seem to get the appointment you need, try somewhere else.
- Your doctor’s approach is not providing the healing you need. If things simply aren’t working, a second opinion – and maybe a change of physician – could be warranted.
- Your doctor doesn’t educate you. We all know the internet is a great source of information – but much of it is either biased or bogus. “Hopefully your doctor is a reliable source for all the information you need,” Thompson writes, “so you don’t feel compelled to seek more information elsewhere. You should be educated completely about your medications, conditions and treatment options.”
- You feel you can’t be honest with your doctor. Trust between doctor and patient is essential, says the NextAvenue If for some reason you find you can’t be open and honest with your physician, it might be a sign that you should seek medical help elsewhere.
- Your doctor is too aggressive. “Be careful how quickly your doctor moves to extreme treatment options,” Thompson cautions. “For instance, if you go to see a doctor about your back pain and he or she immediately wants to schedule surgery, that should be a huge red flag.” The doctor should take an appropriate amount of time – but not too much – to observe, assess and evaluate. If he or she is rushing your treatment in a way that seems inappropriate, you may want to head for the door.
- Your doctor won’t talk with other specialists about your case. This seems like basic common sense, since care coordination is so important. “If your doctor won’t communicate with your other doctors about your care, it might be time to find a new one, especially if this physician is your [Primary Care Physician],” says Thompson.
- You feel bullied. “A doctor who doesn’t answer all your questions, doesn’t return phone calls, speaks condescendingly or keeps you in the dark is not well-suited to you,” says A doctor who pressures you into procedures or medications with which you feel uneasy, without providing a thorough explanation, is very likely wrong for you. If this is happening, it’s time for you as the patient or loved one to take charge.
Time to Take Control
In researching this article, we were amazed at this statement from a group called the Patient Advocate Foundation. “Statistics show that over one-third of adults in the United States will never seek a second opinion,” the group states, “and almost one-tenth of newly diagnosed patients rarely or never understand their diagnosis.” This is madness – yet it speaks to the “magical aura” that seems to envelope the medical community. Whether you’re the patient or you’re caring for a loved one, the NextAvenue article is well worth reading, because we have a hunch that many of you are seeing the wrong doctor and are reluctant to do anything about it. For the sake of your health, the time to remedy that situation is now.
In the same way, the time to take action in planning for your retirement is also at hand – and in this area we have great news. There’s a simple, cost-free way for you to get started on your retirement planning journey, and that’s to accept Rajiv Nagaich’s personal invitation to join him at one of our upcoming informational presentations that we call LifePlanning Seminars. There you’ll join a sizeable group of men and women just like you as you learn from Rajiv how essential it is to have a plan for your golden years that is truly comprehensive. Your financial plan has to mesh with your housing choices. Your medical coverage must take into account your family’s abilities to provide care. Your legal framework has to provide the protection you need. An AgingOptions LifePlan is the only retirement planning tool we know about that accomplishes all this and so much more.
Who Do You Trust?
Ready to take a simple next step? This link will take you to our Live Events page where you’ll find a listing of all the seminars presently scheduled. Select the one that works for you and sign up online to reserve your spot – it’s as simple as that. If you need assistance, feel free to call us this coming week. Just as your physical health depends largely on having the right doctor, your retirement health depends on the type of plan you have and the professionals you trust to guide you. It will be our pleasure at AgingOptions to serve you. Age on!
(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)
Image Source: National Cancer Institute