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10 Signs It Might Be Time to Fire Your Doctor

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Powerlessness can mean helplessness. It can also mean that you have little or no control in a situation!

When I am in a powerless situation, I feel that I have no say, do not matter and cannot change things. Not a good place to be in.

I want to share one example and here is the context: I have been in the hospital quite ill for eight days. My specialist has decided that I am not physically ill. He has decided after two 10-minute visits I am so stressed that I must go into a psychiatric ward: immediately!

My reactions cycle through:

  • Anger
  • Dismay
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Hurt

All the above are emotional responses that correlate with having no power! A doctor automatically has the power, especially in a hospital. Being angry is a clear sign that you actually have no power. In such circumstances, I tend to think that there is no solution.

But there is always a solution! There is always an action and a choice that I can take. Once I take this action, my powerlessness is gone. By taking action, I have resurrected a say in where my life is and where it is going.

In the hospital, my first action was to make no comment to this doctor. Once he left my room, I sobbed. Then I considered my options:

  • Accept that he was correct and go to the psychiatric hospital.
  • Refuse his recommendation and go home. Then, lodge a formal complaint before finding another specialist.
  • Check my mental health status with my general practitioner and psychologist who, unlike this specialist, know me well.

It was my anger at the assumptions being made by this doctor that enabled me to decide to go home. This anger fired up my ability to respond, to decide and to act when I was feeling extremely vulnerable. This is “good anger.”

Once I made my decision, I was very determined and my anger dissolved. I was no longer angry with the doctor, but I was feeling frustrated with his assessment. My emotion evolved into disgust — I knew that I could never trust his judgment again.

The initial fear I felt was also linked to being powerless. Feeling fear when powerlessness happens is often because something I really valued was being challenged. What I valued and found being challenged in this situation was my sanity. I knew I was stressed, but I also knew that I did not need psychiatric care.

When powerless, I have a tendency to procrastinate. Every one of my emotional responses was direct result of feeling so powerless. This time I made the decision and acted immediately.

The only solution to feeling powerless is to take action: action that is well-thought and in your best interests.

I have the utmost respect for every other member of my medical support team. I trust them, I trust their judgment as professionals and, being chronically ill, I need them. But I will not accept assessments based on bias, ignorance or prejudice.

As a patient, there is definitely a power imbalance between your doctor when you are ill and hospitalized. I actually “fired” this specialist I described earlier. I am 70 years old and he is the third doctor I have fired. Each firing has been for a different reason. There are many factors that can cause dissatisfaction with your level of care.

Here are some reasons to fire a doctor:

1. The doctor will not take the time to answer your questions or to explain things.

2. You feel you get “speed doctored.”

3. The doctor’s manner doesn’t line up with your needs (i.e., the doctor may be too abrupt and forthright, or they may be the opposite).

4. The doctor jumps in making assumptions before listening to you fully.

5. You feel uncomfortable.

6. The doctor makes careless mistakes (i.e., prescribing something that you are known to be allergic to).

7. You are totally ignored when explaining symptoms.

8. In an emergency you cannot make contact with the doctor.

9. The doctor is rude to you.

10. The doctor shows prejudice or bias.

Chronic illness is never simple, and it may never go away either. For me, having relationships with my medical team that are based on trust and mutual respect is paramount.

And, I won’t accept being made to feel powerless: I will take action. Even if that means I will not remain under that doctor’s “care” any longer.

Getty image via Chinnapong.

Originally published: September 20, 2019
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