Living in New York City affords us the distinct opportunity to get the very best health care and access to the top doctors and hospitals in the world. But not every doctor is the right fit for everyone, or even necessarily good at what he does. In order to have a constructive visit, a patient needs to be informed and knowledgeable about her lifestyle, habits, symptoms, and conditions before seeing a doctor. Yet, many people take a doctor’s word over their own; of course, that is part of the reason we go to a doctor: to have his educated opinion on the state of our health, a condition, disease, or symptom we are experiencing. However, a doctor-patient relationship is one of mutual respect with the common goal of the well-being of the patient in the forefront.
A necessary skill we all need to acquire is the ability to stick up for ourselves in the course of our own medical care or the care of a loved one. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be a confusing time because some doctors can hinder rather than help the process.
So how do we know that our doctor’s advice is good enough? How can we decide that our doctor is not a good fit? When do we know it is time to move on to a new physician? The truth is that many times, we don’t, but there are telltale signs it may be time for a new doctor:
He does not treat you with respect. He doesn’t listen. He talks over you.
Your doctor does not take your symptoms into consideration. Perhaps he relies entirely on lab results, or even worse, does not take the proper tests and simply uses his sole five-minute observation to conclude that you are fine when you are telling him you feel ill.
She doesn’t show any empathy toward you as a person. There is no offer of hope or a kind word. Maybe she has even suggested it’s all in your head, or you need to toughen up.
The doctor is not willing to listen. He doesn’t want to hear about the research that you found online or explain why or why not he agrees or disagrees. He believes he has all the answers and you need to blindly follow.
He does not return phone calls, send lab reports, or follow up promptly. Most doctors today offer a portal in which patients can access their results online and email their doctors directly.
Your doctor is inconsiderate of your time. He makes you wait three hours for a five-minute visit.
He acts like they are better than you. The doctor assumes he knows you more than you know yourself.
You just do not feel comfortable with him. If there is no trust, you will always be second guessing the doctor and yourself.
She gets offended that you want a second opinion. Any confident doctor will advise you to seek another opinion and be fully assured in her own assessment as well as your desire to learn more.
The doctor does not explain why he is choosing a certain treatment, surgery, or medication. The doctor may be reluctant to answer your questions and you feel rushed during your time with him.
Doctors are lifesavers and there are too many highly skilled, empathetic, and compassionate physicians in New York to settle for anything than the very best.
Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, is a writer and editor living in New York City. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babbl