As the year begins, people tend to use the time to make significant changes to their lifestyle. Usually diet and exercise are at the top of the list for planned change. But an area you may want to spend some time considering this year is who holds the position as your primary physician. As your foremost liaison to the world of healthcare and medical knowledge it is important to have a good relationship with your doctor.
Sometimes we get lucky and end up in the care of a physician who relates to our medical needs and has a complimentary personality. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find a good match. The following attributes can cause a patient-doctor relationship to be unhealthy. Even if you haven’t considered looking for another physician, it is important to keep the following red flags in mind to protect yourself from poor healthcare practices and treatment.
They Don’t Respect Your Symptoms
If you commonly come away from your doctor visits with prescriptions for antidepressants and medications for reducing stress without any additional testing, it may be time to look for a new physician. Some serious conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue include symptoms associated with chronic stress and depression. Without further examination, these chronic conditions can go undiagnosed for long periods. If your physician does not appreciate the severity and reality of these chronic conditions, there may be other ailments they have not fully researched.
They Don’t Consider Your Suggestions
Sometimes physicians don’t appreciate a patient’s knowledge and research regarding their own condition. For example, even if a patient suggests concerns of having a chronic condition, some doctors won’t even run simple blood tests or consider the possibility of a condition other than what they’ve suggested. If your physician immediately dismisses your concerns and suggestions without giving valid reasoning for why they are ruling it out, you should begin looking for a replacement. Explaining in an approachable way why a specific treatment is or is not suggested is an important element of educating patients and making them feel comfortable.
You Don’t Feel Comfortable Sharing with Your Doctor
It is very important that you can share information, sometimes very personal, with your physician without feeling uncomfortable. Confidentiality between patient and practitioner is critical. If you don’t feel like you can share intimate or private information that may aid in diagnosis, then you should consider switching doctors. Feeling secure and at ease while talking to you physician not only aids the diagnosis process, but builds trust between you and your doctor.
They don’t treat you with your medical context in mind
Building a rapport with your medical provider allows them to better treat you through having a greater understanding of your medical history. If your physician only treats you based on each individual visit, they are missing an immense amount of useful information. By ignoring past treatments and important information such as known allergies and sensitivities, you can be put through unnecessary hardship. Additionally, this can lead to continual misdiagnosis and repetitive questioning.
They are Closed Minded and Dismissive of Alternative Treatment Options
Medical conditions rarely have a single perfect, universal means of treatment. In some cases, alternative treatment options such as acupuncture, or massage therapy can be valid, sometimes even optimal approaches to better health. If your physician flatly rejects less prominent methods of treatment without giving proper, understandable reasoning for their objections, it may be a sign to move on to another healthcare associate. Similarly, if they are unwilling to seek advice outside of their field or point you in the direction of a specialist, arguing that they have all the answers, you should take that as a signal that they don’t. Directing patients to the appropriate specialist can be highly beneficial for their health.
They Ignore All Online Information
Although the internet has a reputation for providing misinformation, there are numerous medical resources available that can accurately educate patients as well as physicians. However, it is important to vet your online sources to make sure your sources are legitimate. When a doctor rejects all information that their patient has found online they are discounting a possible wealth of knowledge and research. Many major-medical journals publish work online, which can be accessed by most individuals. If your physician discounts information without explanation simply because it was found online, you may want to find a new doctor.
They Hold on to Outdated Medical Beliefs
Staying up to date with modern practices and retiring old data regarding treatment is important. Unfortunately, this is not a universal occurrence with physicians. For example, some still use TSH testing as the single means of gauging thyroid health. This is flawed as TSH only measures the pituitary hormone, which is only one of the many factors involved with thyroid conditions. If you suspect your physician is using outdated methods, or not utilizing optimal testing procedures, approach your practitioner about it or search for one that is up to date.
They Keep Unprofessional and Lackluster Staff
Your doctor is not the only person you interact with when you choose a primary practitioner. If their office is populated with rude, unfocused, or uncaring persons, your care will likely suffer. Because they act as the primary means of communication between you and your practitioner, it is important that your questions, concerns, and medical information is handled well by the staff. Poor handling of your information, improper scheduling, and clerical errors can result in reduced treatment quality.
Finding the Right Fit
Being dissatisfied with your physician usually results in reduced quality of life whether you’re aware of it or not. Moving from a sub-optimal doctor to one whose personality, practice, and staff matches your needs and character can significantly improve your medical experience as well as your health. Depending on your personality and healthcare needs, there will be some attributes that are more important to you than others. Keep in mind what does and does not work well with you.
The new year is a perfect time to try out a new practitioner that can facilitate your new goals and help you achieve better health. Don’t settle for a mediocre year by settling for a mediocre physician!