By Derek Braslow
She just doesn’t seem interested in you anymore. Always distracted and running late. Seems like she doesn’t care like she used to. You clearly aren’t a priority. There’s always someone else who is spending more time with her. Always dismissive of your concerns. Spends no real time with you. Doesn’t show any empathy—even when you are really sick. The way she talks is condescending. I don’t trust her. Maybe I did when we first met, but not anymore.
If this person was your wife, you’d consider divorce. Maybe marital therapy. But your doctor—you’ve been with her for over a decade—well, that’s a different story. She knows you better than anyone and could save your life. But does she still know you better than anyone? How could you possibly leave her? Like your marriage, your relationship with your doctor is a very important one. I’m here to tell you that you may be happier and perhaps healthier by moving on, playing the field for a bit, and finding someone new; especially if you have these issues in your doctor-patient relationship:
- Communication Issues
The first question you should ask yourself is: does your doctor really listen to your concerns? Does he or she spend enough time with you? At the outset of every visit—your doctor should allow you several minutes to discuss all of your concerns without interruption. Her answers should not feel rushed. Many mistakes are made in clinical care solely by lack of communication. If your doctor doesn’t have time for you, then it is time for you to find one who does.
- Lack of Knowledge
Your doctor should not only be familiar with the latest studies and preventive care, but should also know you as a person. She should know what medications and supplements you are taking. She should be familiar with your prior medical and family history. If she is not taking the time to review your chart and ask you questions, she will lack the requisite knowledge to care for you—then it’s time to ask your friends if they know anyone who might be a good fit for you.
- Lack of Empathy
Nothing is worse than going into a doctor’s office and feeling like no one cares. You are sick, and sometimes there is nothing they can do to help. Prescribing needless antibiotics to make you feel better does not count. However, the least a doctor can do is show real concern about your life and empathy if you are ill. A doctor who doesn’t care is not a doctor worth spending time with; especially when you are most vulnerable.
- Level of Comfort
If there are things you are hiding from your doctor because they are too embarrassing, it’s time to move on. You can’t hold back from telling your doctor everything, regardless of the sensitivity. Drugs, sex, alcohol, abuse… these are issues your doctor needs to know about in order to treat you.
This may not always the doctor’s fault—but it may be her office staff. Are you able to see the doctor when you are sick? Are you able to communicate with the doctor after hours? Do they have hours that can accommodate you? Do they timely call you with important test results? Do they assist with insurance issues? If the doctor and/or her office is not responsive, what is the point of continuing to see her? Again, it is time to find someone who will respond to your needs.
There are plenty of doctors out there who might be a better fit for you. There is no need to rush in making your decision. Perhaps try to talk to your doctor about your concerns. If nothing changes—it is time to consider divorce. It can be scary at first, especially if you’ve been with the same doctor for a long time, but your health is not worth the risk.