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Dumping a Doctor

Dumping a Doctor

It might begin as a gnawing feeling at the pit of your stomach: “I’m not so sure about this doctor.” Am I right or is this not a good fit? I have questions about the care I’m receiving. Do I have the right to find a new doctor? What is the best course of action for my rheumatoid arthritis and my overall health?

Getting the right care as soon as possible is crucial for RA patients. We can’t waste time on bad doctors and improper care.

Here are some warning signs of a doctor that has got to be dumped:

  • Doctor is unresponsive in an emergency—Did you call the doctor when you had a flare, fever, medication reaction or some other RA related emergency and not get a prompt response? Dump them. Seriously, not responding to a patient in pain or some other serious issue is cruel and incompetent. This is the first rule of being a rheumatologist. If your doctor is not available, they should have another doctor look at your file and talk to you to for handling an urgent issue.

 

  • Doctor is rude and inconsiderate—I don’t trust a doctor who doesn’t have compassion for their patients. Maybe it’s simplistic, but if you can’t feel your patients’ pain and want to alleviate it, why go into healthcare in the first place? Being nice is something we all should have learned in preschool, much less medical school.

 

  • Doctor is too rushed or doesn’t listen—The important part of a visit with the doctor is discussion. You need them to listen, ask you questions about your condition, and answer any questions you may have. The doctor can’t understand how you’re doing without taking a few minutes to ask, which also affects your treatment plan. Having a few minutes of quality time is central to the best care.

 

  • Doctor can’t handle paperwork—Unfortunately paperwork is a part of healthcare today. No one loves it, but it helps to keep up-to-date records and facilitate interaction between providers and a health insurer. A sign of competence for a doctor and their office is to be able to promptly and accurately handle paperwork requests. Offices that make major or repetitive mistakes should be called into question. What other major mistakes are they making with your care?

 

These are the key characteristics I care about in my doctor and all of them are deal breakers. Of course the ultimate measure of care is: do I feel better? Sometimes treatments work, often times we have to experiment and find the right combination. Through it all, having a good doctor can make the journey easier.

Before leaving, it may be worthwhile to express your concerns to the doctor or the office. Maybe they are unaware and would be open to change? Bring it up at an appointment and test the reaction. If there’s no change, then write a letter to document the problem before leaving. We patients need to look out for each other so I see this as a community responsibility. Also, it would be hard for a doctor or an office to improve their care if no one gives them useful feedback.

If you do leave a doctor, be sure you have a good new doctor lined up first. (See Choosing a Doctor article.) You do not want to end the relationship before being certain the new doctor will be an improvement.

Your health is important and very personal. You deserve the best treatment as an RA patient and as a human being. Having to make these calls can be very stressful, but it is crucial that you fight for the care you need to manage this disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Tiptoetammy17
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for this I was wondering if I was the only one who didn’t think my doctor was right for me. This reassures me that Im not alone in this battle. Hope you have a great day

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Tiptoetammy17, so glad that you found this article helpful! Yes, I totally agree that not all doctors are a good fit and we have a right to find the best fit to support our health. No need to suffer in silence and not receive the care that you so need for managing RA. Hope you are finding a supportive doctor. Best, Kelly

  • Patrica Pagel-Wheeler
    3 years ago

    I have had two terrible Rheumatologists and two Phenomenal. The first denied I had RA but didn’t even run tests, the third gave me a hard time about being on partial disability, hassled me about the paperwork and made me feel like a criminal. I have found that if possible in your area, find a doctor who is involved in research, who publishes in medical journals and who gathers as much info as possible. Often they will be an MD and PHd. I drive a long distance to see my current Rheumatologist but it’s worth it. I have a team that treat me, a nurse, PA and the doctor.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi Patricia, thanks for sharing your experience. I like your tips and will keep in mind should I ever have to change doctors. It is definitely important to have a supportive and smart team in your corner when you are fighting RA. Take care. Best, Kelly

  • melody123
    3 years ago

    I had to change insurance plans initially to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. At the end of that plan as I was going to Medicare only I got one that said I didn’t look like an RA patient. I told him when I was diagnosed 12 years ago they already had remicade so I was able to prevent many of the deformities He was not a good fit. He would not give me Rituxan every four months like I was getting it. Made me wait 6 months and I was in a lot of pain. He suggested I see the head of the department and I jumped for joy. I really like my new dr. He put me on Orencia and together we work on my RA. He is the best dr Later sjogrens showed up and my sed rate would elevate if my RA wasn’t under control. I kept saying why on earth would anyone ever fake this disaster? I had a great job. My life was secure before all this. Went on medical leave, husband left and all this treatment. Really had a hard time with only two of my Drs and I don’t know if anyone cared but me and I’m an RN and know to get a second opinion. I thank God I’m a nurse I have no one to help and a 5 year old to raise. He is now 21 but still raising as he’s in college. When a good dr examines you he can tell your favoring a foot as the muscles in your calf will be smaller. This is an invisible disease now more than ever but it doesn’t make it any better

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi Melody, thanks for sharing your story. It is really good that you listened to your body and found the doctor/medical support you need. When I was getting diagnosed, I also had a doctor say that I was faking to get attention. I don’t know how I could have swollen my own joints and given myself a limp, but he thought I was that brilliant! Luckily, we didn’t listen and found a doctor who would help. It takes hard work and persistence to manage this illness so we need all the good help that we can get. Hang in there. Best, Kelly

  • Sharon
    5 years ago

    My first Dr misdiagnosed me, for 6 yrs. My second Dr became more interested in money than patient care. I was given the wrong medication via injection once and had a reaction, caught the same error a second time. I only hope they instituted some procedures to prevent it happening to others after I brought it to their attention! The final straw came when I was told to call in for a pain prescription if I needed it after a procedure. I did, and when I went in to pick it up, the receptionist literally waved the prescription in the air, saying (per the doctor), $15.00 or no prescription. After 15+ years with that practice, I cancelled my next appt., and the Dr.

    Now I travel an additional 30 minutes to my current Dr…a kind, caring, gentle man, who puts his patients first.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 years ago

    Very glad to hear you have found a good doctor who treats you well. Good for you!

  • Hudson Valley Karen
    5 years ago

    Hello,
    I live in an area “rich” in specialists yet I travel almost two hours to see my current Rhuematologist because l had to fire others for the same reasons named by others. Ane o
    one also mixed me ip with my father who also saw her but for different reasons! Recently my daughter had to see one a bit of a distant away as her insurance didnt covrr the others. This one was a new addition who was expanding her practice two days a month from NYC. She seemed promising. Initially spent a great deal of time with her and took mant tests. However, at the follow up was curt, dismissive and said that my daughter had muscle issuescand needed to find a difffeeent specialist but refused to offer any referral or further help.
    Then denied having the mri and report that my daughter had brought with her to the inital appointment. Said she never saw it ( I personally handed it to her). So another possibility bought the dust but this time my daughter wss fired!
    It is a real journey to find a prince among the frogs and all the while when you are in pain and feeling anxious and miserable. But, its important to keep up the search. My current rheumy is compassionate and well informed. Its too bad that my daughter’s insurance does’ t cover him.
    Thank you for posting.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story. I really like what you said about being persistent to find the right doctor. Glad you’ve got one and hope your daughter finds one soon.

  • Kathy P.
    5 years ago

    Kelly, thank you for writing this. I live in a very rural state that has the least population in the U.S. It has been a struggle to find a competent RA doctor. Presently, we have two in the entire state.

    One is a total quack and told me I have Munchausen Syndrome (a pretense that you are sick or have a medical condition in order to elicit sympathy). The other one never assessed me, sitting 10 ft. away from me. I don’t smoke, drink, I take a daily shower and I use deodorant, for Pete’s sake.

    One I did have was absolutely fabulous. He talked to me, helped me to understand the progression of the disease, what I could expect in the future, how we would progress through the various medications, what to expect from them, and he gave steroid shots without causing excruciating pain. Then he moved.

    The RA doc I have now isn’t as good as the one I really liked, but certainly a lot better than the other couple. I travel 240 miles each way to see him, and he’s in another state. It’s a miserable trip for me, but it’s better than the alternative.

    Pay attention to this article, and hopefully you’ll find the right doctor to help you improve your life.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 years ago

    Glad the article helped Kathy! And also glad that you found a doctor who is working for you. The shortage of rheumatologists nationwide is a true concern. Even in the case where you can find a good doctor, they often are overloaded with patients because there’s too many cases and not enough docs. Hope you are finding some relief in your treatment!

  • Nan Hart moderator
    5 years ago

    Excellent points! I am posting the link to this on our RA Support group FB page! thanks. Nan

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 years ago

    Great! Glad this is helping! Best, Kelly

  • Karinbeverage
    5 years ago

    I needed to read this. My RA doctor really needs to be dumped!he doesn’t have time for me, barely speaks English (or acts as if he doesn’t), and has no sense of compassion at all!

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hope you find a better doctor soon! Best, Kelly

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