When Good Doctors Go Bad…12 Way to Tell

The following is my opinion based on my 20+ years of nursing experience in the US, and the fact that I spend a “hella-lot” of time in doctor’s offices with my 85-year-old mother and mother-in-law.  If you live outside the US, things may be different.

My personal feeling is, the number of “great” doctors is dwindling down to nothing in the US.  By “great”, I mean one that has:

  • intelligence without arrogance
  • respect for what the patient wants
  • willingness to listen
  • a reluctance to pull out the prescription pad
  • and a good bedside manner.

It might be easier to catch a cloud and pin it down than find a doctor like that.

More and more, I am seeing doctors whose arrogance and incompetence factor is off the charts.  I am seeing doctors who are much more interested in seeing as many patients as possible in order to make the rent in that fancy high-rise, than treating those patients properly.  Now of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure there are those of you who know some.  If you do, keep the name to yourself…..or he/she will become too busy to see you!

I’m sure we can speculate on why doctors can be so terrible:  the increased demands, keeping up with the ever-changing and advancing world of medicine, and the fact that they don’t teach doctors certain things they should know (like about basic nutrition and human interaction skills).  I also find it very interesting, but not surprising that drug companies are major contributors to medical schools.  No one graduates med school or practices medicine without some “gifts” from the oh-so-generous pharmaceutical manufacturers. (that’s a whole other post…pah-leaze!)

This post is about how you can spot a “bad” physician quickly, and what things to look for when finding a “good” one.

how to spot a bad doctor

Paging Dr Hackenbush! Dr Hackenbush to the golf course STAT!

See if your doctor is guilty of any of the following:

  • 1.  Has the doctor ever been sued for malpractice or have any outstanding legal issues? For US doctors, you can find this by going to the State Medical Board web site and typing in the doctor’s name.  (google this : medical board.the state the doctor is in.gov)  They will tell you if there are any suits in the past or pending.  It will also tell you where they went to school, and how long they’ve been in practice.  Click here to see a map and details about the uber-bad doctors. Those with criminal records or those who show up drunk to the ER.
  • 2.  When you call to make an appointment for your first visit, you should eventually be directed to a live person, not a machine.  You should be able to ask this person basics about the doctor–how long has this person been practicing, when did they join the group, etc.  If the person says “I dunno” and is rude and doesn’t  deal with you professionally, think twice.  If you’re sick or need test results in the future, this is who you’ll be dealing with. Quality doctors hire quality office staff.
  • 3.  You can tell this is going to be bad if you walk in the waiting room and it is packed. That means he/she probably isn’t going to see you when your appointment time is.  I take this as a direct form of disrespect for the patients and the value of their time.
  • 4.  Does the doctor greet you with “Good morning Ms. Smith, nice to meet you” or is it “OK, so why are you here?”  If they’re rushed, they are not thinking about the best way to treat you, just the fastest way.
  • 5.  Does the Dr wash his/her hands when they enter the room? Is there even a sink to wash in the exam room? If you don’t think this is important, think about what body part the doctor was examining in the previous room before he/she shook your hand…..

    Before they touch you, they should do this.

  • 6.  When you are telling the doctor your symptoms, are they engaged in what you are saying? or are they looking at their phone or reading your chart?  Your past medical information should be reviewed before they go into the room so they can focus on the current problem.
  • 7.  When you mention an article that you read on the internet, do they roll their eyes and get defensive? do they generalize by saying “you can’t believe the stuff you read on the web!”?  They should be able to give their opinion on what you read without thinking you’re a pain in the rump for trying to be informed about your own health.  They should also be open, not instantly dismissive to alternative forms of treatment, or at least know what they are.
  • 8.  If they need to order tests, are they explained in detail giving the reason why the test is being performed, if there are any side effects, and when you should get the results? or do they say “I’m ordering some tests. See the receptionist on the way out for instructions.”
  • 9.  Are you called with all your test results? whether they are normal or not?  Don’t accept the “if it’s normal we won’t call you” line.  How do you know they even sent your test to the lab?  There is no reason you should not be notified with your results by a qualified health professional who has the brains and knowledge to discuss the results with you. Here’s a recent conversation I had with my Dad’s doctor’s office staff:

not-old-enough-to-vote-girl staff: “I have your Dad’s blood work from last week and it shows something not right.  The doctor wants him to take iron pills.”

me: “ok what did it show?”

noetvg staff: “Um….the hem…hembloo….heem…

me: “hemoglobin?”

noetvg staff: “yeah! That’s it!. That was low.”

me: (knowing full well what this means) “What does that mean?”

noetvg staff: “um….it has something to do with the blood.”

me (after having enough fun): Can you have the doctor call me?

noetvg staff: Oh, no. you can’t speak with the doctor.  I can have a nurse call you.

Which brings me to #10:

  • 10.  Are you told you cannot speak directly with the doctor? There is no reason that you can’t talk to the person you have hired to manage your health.  If you are directed to a nurse, ask the nurse to have the doctor call you in a reasonable amount of time.  For non-emergencies, give it a day or two.  If you can’t get them on the phone in several days, ditch them.
  • 11.  Does the doctor whip out the prescription pad before you even get out all your symptoms? The drug companies rule the medical field these days.  They fund the studies that say their drugs are the best, then sell the doctors on this idea.  The drug companies have now turned directly to the patient through TV and internet ads (if you haven’t noticed) and they make it sound like you need their drugs to be happy.  Sometimes drugs are necessary, but they are also the quick way to get you out of the exam room, and get the next patient in.
  • 12.  Does the doctor respect your wishes? That is, if you choose not to take that drug that he/she wants to prescribe, do they shove it in your face, use scare tactics, or refuse to see you again?  I took my  Mom to the doctor, and she wanted to prescribe injections for osteoporosis, (a common condition in post menopausal women that causes the bones to become brittle.)  My mom looked up the side effects which includes bone cancer  and osteonecrosis, which is jaw bone deterioration, and is choosing not to take it.  Every time she sees my  Mom  in the office for any reason, she uses scare tactics and tells her she is not doing the right thing.  “Over  20% of  people that break their hip at your age DIE, did you hear me? They DIE! This is serious! You are taking  a  huge risk!  What would happen if you broke your hip?!  If you broke your back you would be in constant pain!”  (I was biting my lip because my mom really likes this gal, but it was hard to sit through)

Finding a good doctor while you are well, for regular check ups, means having that good doctor when you really need them.  I can tell you from going through a major illness, that having confidence in who is treating you and being able to have a relationship with them in order to understand, ask questions, and challenge them, can make all the difference in how well you do (or don’t do) in recovery.

Try to find yourself or your loved one a “great” doctor.  It may take some time, but it may also make things easier down the line.

I would love to hear your good doctor/bad doctor stories.

Categories: health, health and wellness, healthy living

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40 replies

  1. You article has some decent points. But the statement that there are so “few” good doctors left in the U.S. is ridiculous. You also seem to have the impression that because a doctor is busy, or doesn’t have hours to chat means they don’t care, or won’t care for you appropriately. I’m and ER physician, and I’m rushed… a lot. My waiting room is always packed. That doesn’t mean I’m not interesed in your concerns. Granted, this is a different setting than a family practice office. But, the government has made it almost impossible for FPs to survive without double booking appointments- every day. Medical school leaves us with more debt than almost any other professional out there. (which is fine if mommy and daddy were doctors too, but for the majority of us, that isn’t the case) They can’t accept every phone call patients make, because every doc has their regular- who calls about every hiccup or stubbed toe they have. This also gives patients who have taken time from their days to come to the office, less time at their visit. And yes, we roll our eyes when people read things from the internet. They’re often misinterpreted, or not completely understood. Our patient’s then stop taking their crucial cardiac medications or antibiotics for a serious infection because Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil has told them these things are toxic. Yes, there are plenty of bad doctors out there. Plenty that have lost their compassion along the way because the system has beat it out of them, plenty that don’t continue their education and use outdated treatments, and some that just want to make money (but, really, no amount of money is enough to endure the hell that is medical school). Patient’s need to be happy with their physician’s. But there has inceasingly developed a lack of trust, and lack of respect for those of use that give up so much of our lives, to make better lives for others. The system, and the government, don’t make the ideal patient physician relationship possible- and we aren’t happy about it either. Be objective, but if your doctor isn’t perfect, give them a break. Doctors are human beings too.

  2. Hi Savy Sister: I was just glancing at an exchange I had w/you over a yr ago. Unreal. Since that 1st time I contacted you, I made a decision to seek palliative care, instead of seeking the best tertiary care money (can’t) buy. I try to spend as little time as possible thinking of my chronic disability (AR). It has helped my frame of mind to pay less atten to health issues.
    What has come up since I first met you here is the practice of assigning patients admitted to hospital, a specialist called a “hospitalist”. Many hospitals will allow your doctor to make one visit, usually prior to discharge. Here we have situation in which a person is very ill, or having surgery that requires at least one night in hospital. It seems almost inhumane, to me. that a person can’t be cared for his/her PCP. Our Dr.is the person we are likely to feel most comfortable with in a stressful situation, not a stranger coming into our lives at such an uneasy time. Can you explain what brought this radical change about, and how medical consumers get through this ordeal of having a doctor who is not of one’s choice?

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I am happy that you have made a decision that allows you more time to think about things other than your disabilities. We have a lot of choice when it scomes to our thoughts and that can be very powerful.
      I am familiar with the hospitalists and I believe the practice will take over the entire country. The reason is cost…plain and simple. The insurance companies did not like paying office doctors huge fees for going by a patiet’s room in the hospital and waving hello.(of course there was more going on than just a wave, but the fees, according to the insurance companies, were not justified) This led to markedly reduced fees paid to office docs for their visits. This then led to the office docs not wanting to go to the hospitals for patient visits because it just wasn’t worth it. So the hospitals now employ their own doctors, pay them a salary, and keep the insurance fees that are paid.
      This is different than in the Emergency Room where hospitals are hiring out doctors from outside companies. If you’ve been to an ER lately, you get a bill from an outside company completely different from the hospital that employs the ER doc for his/her services within the hospital seperate from the hospital bill. My husband actually went to the ER in the hospital where he is employed, and the ER doc that saw him was not on his insurance plan!! We then had to fight the denial of the fee charged by a doc that worked in the very hospital that was covering my husband for ER services!! Talk about a system that is FUBAR!

      I would imagine having someone else care for my patient, if I was a PCP, would be frustrating as well. There is probably hours of time spent on the phone between the PCP and the hospitalist…and the family of the patient and the PCP…if the hospitalist isn’t meeting the family’s needs.
      I fear that this is only the beginning…care is becoming more disjointed and the word continuity does not exist anymore. The insurance companies might be saving money, but in the long run it may be costing more because of loss of continuity of care which leads to loss of quality of care.
      I truly feel that the future is in us taking on the responsibility of caring for ourselves and each other, and prevention when possible.

      Thanks very much for your comment. I wish you all the best

      • Thanks again, Savy Sister for shedding some light on hospitalists.I appreciated your quick response. That is bizarre about your husband getting charged for complying w/Ins rules in re to his ER care. It’s a sad farce out there. I wish we could order our own tests and work with computers, instead of seeing some burned out “healer”. I would trust a pharmacist to suggest new medications much more than a Dr. I think we have the technology to do lots more for ourselves in terms of dx & tx. Oh, would those docs HOWL!

        • There are some great docs out there but unfortunately they are swimming in a pool of government regulations and insurance reimbutsements and big pharma influence. The cardiology practice I worked for just got bought out by a huge hospital system which operates just like a billion dollar corporation. One of the docs… A really smart compassionate guy broke from the pack to practice on his own. I fear that he won’t last a year because he won’t make enough on visits and procedures to cover his overhead and malpractice insurance. It’s a shame.
          I really feel a shift happening all over that people realize they need to take care of themselves don’t you? And also look to other forms of healing other than traditional western medicine.
          Lets see what happens….

        • I agree, it’s one of those “things have to get worse B4 they get better”. One more obvious point is that the great doctors I’ve known, and they were 10+ saints, they are getting ready to retire, if not gone already! I had one who was a “wounded healer”, a great guy who did so much for so many, a maverick got himself into a very strange downward spiral. BTW, are U familiar w/Aveda Cosmetics? Horst Rechelbacher, a huge advocate for environment and organic cosmetics died a month ago. He was my hairstylist in twin cities, back in the day. His death haunts me, and I feel surprisingly depressed. For sure Horst was greatest hairstylist ever, and a powerful charismatic. He was getting ready to talk serious with Bobby Kennedy, Jr. and put his billions behind RFK, Jr. Good luck with your mission, here in cyber space. You’re doing a great job.

        • YES! I am familiar with Horst!! Such an inspiration! I love how he would eat his products to show they were safe. I would love to see the CEOs of some of these cosmetic companies eat their chemical laden products!! Yes a great loss but we learned from him.

  3. I like this – as a medical student, I agree with most of these. Except #6, sort of. I agree doctors should be engaged, and NOT work on their phones, but I don’t think it is necessarily bad to read the file. Maybe you forget what you read in the file, or you just want to hear it in the patient’s words. This is especially true when you work in a busy facility where you may be following up on a patient you’ve never seen before, and just need to be sure the previous doctor’s notes aren’t misleading.
    But this is great, thanks. I’ll keep it all in mind!

  4. I am in the process of switching doctors after almost 30 years. He “was” an excellent doctor when I started to use him. As the insurance rules started to change, he became angry, then angrier. He made vocal his complaints about how little he got paid. The last several years he has made some serious mistakes in my care, either wasting time sending me to his specialist friends, or not being in the mood to tell me what to do, with a serious cough I had that ended up turning into something so serious I needed surgery.
    I am at an age, where his sloppiness could be lethal, and I have to avoid it.
    He has become arrogant, and antagonistic, something that I don’t think is acceptable in a primary care physician. I have put off switching, as I have used him so long, but finally have made an appointment with a new doctor.
    I am relieved that I did that, as he has so intimidated doctor’s in his practice, that it took me a while to find one that wasn’t!!!!

    • So glad you can switch! Sometimes we have this “pedestal image” of our doctors and we’re a little afraid to upset them. I’m sure you felt a whole lot better leaving your doctor’s office for the last time!

  5. Uao, lyrica 3 times a day ???

    I enjoyed your article and as I’m going to be soon a doctor I’m looking for information on how to be a good one… I also found this post quite interesting http://blog.nayamed.com/page/3/

    Thank you and nice day!

    • Dear Martin: I am new here & have no right to B an “expert opinion” here, but I think U R already a great doctor just by having the curiosity to come here, and to be so polite and interested in what people are saying/feeling here.

      Good luck to you, and if you locate to Philadelphia Area PLEASE ADVISE. I want to be 1st on your list:)

  6. Hi. Thanks for your blog – I found it through the pooping article! But I actually have a doctor related question for you: My grandparents are pretty old, and very set in their ways. They have the same GP I have, a person I don’t trust in the least. This doctor poo-pooed me and my symptoms until I had to get my ovary removed with possible cancer (thankfully, there wasn’t any). The endemetriosis was ignored and allowed to strangle my intestines and ovary, while I threw up every day for half a year and lived in agony. I was so sick, I couldn’t really be my own advocate. She qualifies for each of your descriptions of a bad doctor.

    My grandma is mentally ill and has had shingles now for about six months. I’m constantly worried that this doctor isn’t taking proper care of my grandma. She is always in pain and mentally out of it most of the time. I know she’s taking vicodin all the time for the shingles pain, but that stuff is so hardcore – especially for somebody already on anti-psychotics… I always bring it up, but they won’t ever switch doctors. Is there anything I can do? Its hard being so powerless and watching my grandmother fade away!

    • Sounds like you know exactly what a bad doctor is (unfortunately). Older people really get the shaft when it comes to medical care. They are often thought of as “not worth the effort” . I don’t know your doctor, and I’m not saying this is what he/she thinks, but in my experience, this sometimes is the case. That being said, older folks are set in their ways and they also have a different point of view when thinking of “doctors”. It’s hard to change that way of thinking . To their generation, doctors were “gods” and you did what they said without questioning it.

      Your poor grandma. Shingles are the worst kind of pain because it is the nerve itself that is affected and it can go on for months, like she has.

      There is no reason she or anyone, for that matter, should be in pain. If the medications she is getting is not working, then the doctor should find other options. Vicodin makes me loopy, so I can imagine what it is doing to her. It is difficult when trying to find options for elderly because their systems work a lot slower, so they build up the medications in their bodies more quickly than you or I. There are some very good medications for chronic pain (which this is becoming at 6 months)and you may want to discuss this with your doctor.
      There are also some alternative therapies for pain available. Do you have a naturopath in your area? You can go here to find one: http://www.naturopathic.org/
      They may be able to give you some options your MD isn’t aware of.

      I really wish I had a magic wand, but she’s very lucky to have you to watch out for her.

      • Thank you for your comments! I have a small update: she has been taking lyrica three times a day, and my grandpa confirmed that she “went downhill” since she started it. After doing research online, I’m horrified to see so many of the symptoms she has discussed by people cursing the drug and saying it ruined their lives! Extreme speech and memory problems, sleeping all the time, and fluid gain in the legs are some of what she’s experienced.

        She has lowered her dose to two times a day, and already there is an obvious improvement in her mental state. I’m so happy this might be over…. but also afraid that the damage has already been done. She’s been on it for months.

  7. Help, PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!! I am with the VA & have no choice of doctors. When my PCP of 2 years retired, my GYN found crystals in my urine in July 2011 & she referred me to my PCP ASAP, who did NOTHING but sent me to a detox consult for my chronic pain. Detox clinic said because of my real pain I did not belong in detox. I contacted back my GYN for help, she referred me back to my PCP who looked at a 6 month old sonogram of my kidney’s and said no evidence of kidney stones, I was OK. I went to the VA ER the weekend after thanksgiving as the pain started to be unbearable, I was given antibiotics. I filed a complaint with her boss as this was the least of what she did. The plan of action, was to take away my pain meds, replace with nothing, my husband asked if they were intending to make me an invalid, her boss said, if that is what happened, then yes. And they kept me with the same PCP who I filed a neglagence report against & she cannot tell me what is even wrong with me, causing my chronic pain, but I do know what is wrong but feel it is not my place to tell her as I could tell her anything.
    Bottom line January 3rd, 2012 I ended up by ambulance in the hospital for 5 days with an inflamed bowel being pumped full of antibiotics and steroids, was sent home with them, still not better, maybe end of life. Saw her 2x ever and it was for this, all she cared about was taking away my narcotics. Cannot find help, have given up!!!

    • Sounds like you’ve been through a tough time Stephanie. Without knowing the particulars in your situation, it’s hard for me to direct you. I would start with your current PCP. See if you can find out what the plan of action is for you. Doctors usually have a plan of care in mind, but maybe that was never communicated to you. It sounds like there is some miscommunication going on here. At your next visit, try to write down the things that concern you starting with the highest priority and take them one by one.
      I hope you can get things worked out

  8. All of this information is certainly great but most people go to the doctor or specialist for something that is immediately causing a problem.Most of us go to what we feel is a qualified and professional practice.It is impossible to interrogate doctors with we feel are the best defensive questions.Surely we don’t want to get hoodwinked by a quack or greedy con artist but hell I believe they are more prevalent than the Godly ones.It’s always going to be after the fact that we find out about terrible doctors.I don’t know of anyone that is going to 4 or 5 doctors and pay 40 dollars a visit in co pays in order to weed out shady docs. I’m sure there are wealthy patients that can afford to do this.But most of us live in an HMO world and we are at the mercy of the insurance company approving the doctors hard sell and having our much anticipated surgery or procedure to cure our illness.Don’t think for a second that I am making light of this great article or saying that people won’t take heed to the great information…..I wish I had read this article,because I put all my faith and trust in an Ear Nose and Throat doctor that informed me of minimally invasive surgical procedure called ” Balloon Sinuplasty” to alleviate my sinus pain and pressure. After 2 pre procedure visits ,which looking back at it was very strange.So to make a long story short,this idiot had planned a major sinus surgery for me and while I w2as under anesthesia ,he removed my nasal turbinates and fractured nasal bones.I found out that he and hospital associates billed my insurance carrier 60 thousand dollars.This story goes on and on and I will not bore you!

    • So sorry, that you had to go through that!
      I see your point that it’s not easy to find a good doctor, but even the worst health plans give you some choices–even if it’s among the 4 or 5 doctors in the same office.
      When I was looking for an oncologist, I made “interview” appointments with 3 doctors on my insurance plan. When I made the appointment, I told them it was just to meet with the doctor. I was given a 10 minute meeting with them and was not charged. It could be that I found the only 3 doctors in the world that would do that, but I don’t think so. Folks just aren’t aware that is even an option. You do have some power…even if you’re in an HMO.
      I truly hope things are better for your now! Thanks for your thoughts!

  9. this is an excellent post. I am glad to hear a nurse acknowledging this problem with our current physicians in this country.

    I have numerous medical conditions, of which some are spinal with 4 surgeries to the neck and low back. In addition I suffer from severe migraine headaches (have since I was a teenager) that has gotten worse since my second neck surgery. I also have a heart condition. To add to the pot of issues I am bipolar. Let me tell you that almost every doctor I have encountered sums me up in less than 2 seconds the minute they see my psychiatric condition on the chart. I am often treated with indifference and my complaints/concerns are often discounted. It does seem that it is hard to find a good physician in any field now who isn’t more concerned with their own time, bank account etc. than their patients. It is utterly annoying to wait an hour for an appointment when you as a patient show up on time. I really get upset when the doctor is constantly taking phone calls during my visit with him, and he does very little listening due to all the distractions. Nurses pop in and out during my visit and often times I feel I am not being taken seriously or even being heard.

    I only have one general practitioner I see (have seen him for 20 years now) and he is of a dying breed in this country. He is old school. He can spend up to 20 minutes or more with you writing down everything you say (repeating back what you say so he completely understands you) and he really listens. Yes, his staff is great, and I get a live person every time I call for an appt. I am able to talk to him direct if needed. He doesn’t get hostile, defensive, or attitude if I ask questions or defer certain medications or treatment he suggests. He simply works with me and we find alternatives if that is the case. Sadly I cannot say the same for the Neurologists or Orthopedists that I have seen. I have “fired” at least 5 different pain doctors because they all do not listen nor seem to care. Not too mention I think I have now been labeled a “drug seeker”, when I do ask for pain medication by them. I almost hesitate to ask anymore seriously. I have not experienced this with my general practitioner and he knows I have Bipolar. I have seen my grandmother, and other relatives treated poorly by physicians. What I have noticed is women and elderly are most likely to be treated poorly, and discounted by these type physicians. I am sure I am not the first patient with a psychiatric illness that gets treated poorly in this country when it comes to serious health issues. It is sad to see the US has created a “monster” with regard to the new breed of doctors that are being pumped out of these medical schools.

    • Cathy: I am so sorry to hear about all you illnesses and issues! That must make life very hard sometimes. it sounds like you have seen all kinds of doctors, which is good, because you can probably spot a bad one in a minute. It is unfortunate that in todays day and age, medical professionals still see mental illness with a certain view. I hope you have a good psychiatrist as that can often make all the difference in being treated properly and finding good medical doctors. You have to just know that when you see a specialist the only part of your body they see is the part they were trained to specialize in.
      You may want to seek out some alternative therapy for your migraines if you haven’t already as there are some excellent therapies available. Good luck.

      • It’s been fascinating reading these reports, and seeing how they are replied to. I am a 65 yr old F. w/RA. I also have seen Psychiatrists, my mother was severely Bi-Polar; her hx very similar to Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s wife. What I have experienced is that my physicians have had combinations of greatness/badness. I have always researched my doctors, their education/training has not been an issue. The 1st physician I “fired” was a very popular Dr. in a mid-sized midwest city. The medical school in this area was one of the very finest in the country in terms of prestige. My gyn had a great bedside manner, very smooth, knew how to make patients comfortable. One Saturday, I developed a fever of 103 w/pelvic pain so severe I could hardly walk. I called him, and he dx’d a urinary track infection & called my pharmacy. Fortunately, my friend insisted on taking me to Univ. Med. Center where I was dx’d w/PID (pelvic inflamatory disease), put on ICU w/in-pt. treatment of 2 wks. The Resident who treated me in ER was just shocked when he saw who my dr. was & how he handled my complaints!

        I could write a book. My poor mother was discriminated against very badly, even by physicians who were relatives/friends of family. It seems her shrink(s) were not networked well w/Primary Providers. Fortunately she was healthy most of her life, until a sad accident caused a bad head injury. What a nightmare that became. Even in best of medical times in my life, say late 60’s – 70s (HMOs in my opinion, were the start of increased problems), doctors did not follow the recommended model of working in partnership with other specialists. One thing I expected,in a more managed health care system, to improve, was the relationship between PCP’s & specialists like psychiatrists. I expected a GP or Internist treating my mother, to be more comfortable & sophisticated about her issues and treatment. This was not at all the case! It seems that doctors have always detested dealing with mental health and even dealing with doctors who treat it. As far as the psychiatrists were concerned, if she became ill, they wanted no participation in her care. As the years advanced, and her behavior got more inappropriate, there were 2 instances when doctor’s dischared her from their care. I recall the shock of being at my parent’s door when a registered letter from her doctor was delivered! She was “fired” by her dr., a young internist, because she failed to call the psychiatrist he recommended. I can understand his frustration, she should have complied with his referral, at least he made one. . . .but she was too confused to do that, her husband had always taken the lead in this area. I did call her Dr. to relay my concerns, and I asked him why he had not called my father, he admitted having no contact w/my Dad, even though my father always accompanied my Mom to her appointments. He firmly told me he was not able to care for my Mother in his current practice, and wished me luck finding a new Dr. for her.

        I wish everyone here better luck in getting improved care. I do notice a slight bias towards Nursing and Alternative Medicine, but those issued are dealt with very directly. People seeking help here will be open to Alternative Health and increased scoop of practice for Nurse Practitioners, PA’s, Chiropractors, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy, etc.

        • Wow! You sound like you have lots of experience with all kinds of doctors. It’s a shame that you had to go through all that you did with your mom. I agree that alternative medicine is the wave of the future. I think it’s because those health care practitioners look at the person as a “person” and not as a “heart patient” or a “depressed” patient, but a whole person with needs and illnesses that affect various parts of the being. Often what helps in one area of health will help in another. (Herbs for insomnia will improve mood….etc)
          Thanks very much for your comment!

  10. the arrogance of drs is always a big turn off for me. Some can be pretty mean too.

    Nurses are so much nicer 🙂 When I was hospitallized it was the lovely caring nurses who speeded up my recovery.

  11. No problem. Love the blog!

    And in my experience nurse practitioners are generally more patient oriented and they tend to look at the whole picture rather than jumping to conclusions about what’s really wrong and sending you to the pharmacy. Maybe I’m biased because I’m a nurse, but that’s been my experience.


  12. AMEN! Well said and great information. As a fellow nurse it can be trickey working in the medical field because we work side by side with many doctors that don’t care to explore health problems further and are quick to pull out the prescription pad to “solve” your problems. That’s usually why I prefer to see nurse practitioners! I am dealing with prescription happy doctors for my dad’s medical issues and I’m convinced more medication is not always the answer.

    I think a lot of people don’t know how to stand up for themselves and their health. So many are trapped in the ‘doctor knows best’ mentality and in reality you have to be your own best health advocate. Thanks for elaborating on many of my frustrations! Great post as always!


    • Great suggestion about the nurse practitioner!
      I agree with people not knowing that the doctor/patient relationship works two ways. They are “afraid” to say they are unhappy with the treatments being given.
      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment Tricia!

  13. This is really great stuff!! I think I’ve only ever seen ONE good doctor…. Oh dear. K

  14. Very informative. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that there are certain fields that are off-limits to people who aren’t financially well off. I now realize that it was an over-generalization, but I still believe that there are many great people out there that can’t make the financial sacrifices to become a doctor.
    It would be great if there was an apprenticeship program instead of the seemingly inhumane sleep deprived med school years I’ve read about.

  15. I searched for a while for a doctor that i thought could be a good balance between eastern and western medicine. I found a great internist at Northwestern Hospital, Jeanne Kim. She is Korean and is also an acupuncturist and studied Chinese Medicine. She is not too quick to reco pill taking and meds and is open to alternative therapies. She is also a great listener and is a genuinely good person. I highly recommend searching for a good doc..it is worth the time! thanks for the great post Savvy Sis!

  16. When I need a doctor to listen, ask relevent and helpful questions, give me time and real empathy I make an appointment with my naturopath. She has never steered me wrong, will refer me to my MD if needed, and looks at lifestyle issues before any talk of meds.. She is the one who discovered my thyroid condition from vague symptoms I’d been having for years.

    • Great advice, Nancy!. Click here if you are in the US to find a Naturopath near you. A naturopath uses a more holistic approach to helping you obtain health. Naturopaths are currently licensed in 15 states and Canada. Use the website to navigate and get information.

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