Yesterday I got fired from one of my patients.
This is the third time (that I know of) in my 15-year career that I don’t meet a patient’s expectations and they fire me as their doctor.
His email to me reads like this:
“I’ve decided to go elsewhere and decided you may have a conflict of interest in not addressing supplements RXed by others that are not yours… “
“Conflict of interest in not addressing supplements that are not yours” is likely referring to dietary supplements I prescribe from XY Wellness. That is confusing considering I prescribe supplements from other sources often. Additionally, I don’t ever discontinue patient care when they consume dietary supplements from different equivalent sources.
But this blog post is not about defending my position on yesterday’s occurrence.
Today’s article is about when to fire your doctor, which I believe should happen when the trust is damaged.
Your doctor is fallible. I am too.
Most physicians work hard for their patients. Sometimes I discuss with colleagues the sleepless nights we experience when thinking about our patients. But even then, we never bat 1000, to use a baseball analogy.
In baseball, any player that hits to get on base safely three out of ten times as a batter (hits .300 average), that’s an outstanding player.
One player in the history of baseball ever hit .4oo in one year. That is Ted Williams from the Boston Redsox in 1941 where he hit .406. That’s nearly a perfect average.
Physicians are expected to hit 1000, which, of course, is not possible.
Still, I am the first one to recommend people to fire their doctor if they are not connecting.
There are also other problems with some doctors. I am fully aware that not everyone is perfect and some doctors can and will make mistakes. That’s why it is so important to trust your gut instinct if you think that something is still wrong with you or a loved one. You don’t want to experience a wrongful death just because a doctor told you were fine when you knew that you weren’t. If something like this has happened to you then you should make sure to get yourself a lawyer. If won’t bring back the person but it will provide you with some justice.
My imperfections as a health care provider are not my (ex)patient’s problem. It’s my problem.
While I don’t believe the patient is always right, trust is essential for a good doctor/patient relationship. Once the trust is broken, all bets are off; healing becomes difficult for the patient.
9 Reason’s When You Should Fire Your Doctor
1. When the doctor says your health problem, “ Is all in your head.” While the mind can contribute to disease, it is often not the cause of disease.
2. Physician death sentence. You have X months (pick a timeline) to live. No doctor is God to give a death sentence. A competent physician should always provide reasonable hope. I have patients with stage 4 prostate cancer living way beyond what they supposed according to their oncologist.
3. Physician frustration from your questions. Most patients ask great questions these days. They have access to much information via the internet. Yes, some of the info is crap, but some are good. The physician should answer all questions and provide clarity of the action plan.
4. The physician should look at you in the eye when he/she speaks to you – something becoming less frequent these days with Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Docs typing as they talk to you should not be a deal breaker, everyone’s clinical practice is backed up and avoiding getting behind with patients is the name of the game in most clinics. But there should be some eye contact.
5. Holistic medicine is not scientific – fire your doctor. I’m a little biased here. But all biases aside, there is a plethora of evidence on the benefits of holistic medicine. Your doctor may not care to look into it. Or in fairness has no interest or time to research on anything else. They are struggling to stay abreast on their specialty. Still, to say holistic methods are not scientific or BS is grounds to fire your doc.
6. Listen to your gut, not your brain. Your gut instict will tell you if your doc is the right fit for you.
7. Know what you want from your doctor – have appropriate expectations though. Understand the medical system is squeezing physicians to spend no more than 15 minutes per patient. You, the patient, also have to be efficient with your questions. If he / she does not meet your expectations, that doc has to go.
8. Fear mongering. “You will die if you don’t undergo surgery now” type of statement is an out for me. And it should be for you. Nothing is 100% in medicine.
9. Your physician does not respect your time. Some patients wait one or two hours before their 15 minute face-to-face with the physician. Every person’s time is valuable and should be respected. Yes, emergencies happen where a physician may get delayed, but those are anomalies. At minimum patients should get an update on how much longer they need to wait by someone, if not the physician himself.
For any physician reading this post; when a patient is dissatisfied with our service as health care providers that is a moment to break any complacency one may have and improve on how you practice. Maybe communicate more clearly. Or perhaps listening better.
After my recent incident with my disgruntled patient, I am stepping back to look at my clinical holes and fix them.
As a physician, it’s emotionally brutal getting fired by a dissatisfied patient, but it can be an opportunity to improve on what we are meant to do – optimize the health of the sick. And healing patients will help alleviate the sting.
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