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10 Things I Look for in a Doctor as a Patient With Chronic Illness

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A good general practitioner (GP) is essential when you have multiple health problems. I’m so thankful for my GP because he is a fantastic doctor and knows me well enough to know that if I say I need to be squeezed in to see him, it is urgent. He believes me. He trusts me. I also trust him. I know if he says it’s not wise to try a new med, or says something else is not what I thought it might be, I can trust his opinion. He is the doctor, not me. He’s willing to address every single issue I have, at every single appointment, no matter how long it takes, and never makes me feel rushed or like a nuisance. He listens, explains things and does something else I think is important for a complex, chronically ill patient. He never assumes new symptoms are caused by my known issues. He always says, just because you have this and this and this, doesn’t mean you can’t now have this. So I want to check it. That is huge. It’s important and something not all doctors do. So many things can be missed if everything is pinned on a known condition. If you are unhappy with your doctor, I suggest looking for these things in a new one: 1. A doctor who listens to you and respects that you know your own body. 2. A doctor who respects you and will treat you with kindness and dignity. 3. A doctor who looks deeper, even if you already have some known health issues. 4. A doctor who will allow you to address all of your concerning symptoms at one appointment. Who will let it take as long as it takes.

  5. A doctor who will explain what is happening to your body, why certain meds will or won’t be a good idea. You should feel like you are in it as a team. 6. A doctor who believes you and doesn’t discount everything you say. 7. A doctor who will see you on short notice for sudden symptoms that require a doctor immediately. 8. A doctor who will refer to the specialists needed 9. A doctor who is legitimately concerned for your health. Who actively wants you to be at your best. 10. A doctor who will stand up for you if specialists dismiss your concerns. All of these are important for any patient, but for a patient who has multiple health issues, these things are essential.

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Originally published: June 8, 2017
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