When Is It Time To Fire Your Doctor?

Scrubbed In (Photo credit: adwriter)

It can happen with any physician. Whether it’s a general family practitioner or an OB/GYN, there comes a point in time when we all feel like our doctor isn’t really listening to us or acting in our best interest.

Relationships with doctors are often complex. Physicians help us when we’re desperately ill, take an interest in our aches and pains, and tell us to lose weight or get our cholesterol down. They’re there to help us feel young and deal with the problems of getting older. So what happens when you feel like you aren’t getting personal treatment and attention?

Many people feel a personal connection to their doctor, even when the doctor isn’t treating them properly. Rather than putting up with an otherwise occupied practitioner, it’s time to fire your doctor. That’s right. I said FIRE.

For some reason, many people feel like they owe their physician their loyalty. (I have certainly fallen into this category.) However, it is important to remember that above a personal connection, the two of you have a working relationship. The key word here is relationship, meaning the benefits needs to go both ways.

As women, we often have a hard time demanding the service we deserve. After all, doctors are providing a service we pay for. They are not doing us a favor by seeing us. Let me give you an example.

When we moved to a new town, my son was just a toddler bringing tons of germs from preschool. Suddenly, I was sick month after month. I found a group of three internists that could see me quickly and take my insurance. Yahoo! However, when I met the older doctor, he barely listened to what I had to say, dismissed some of the things I did get through and  discharged me with a quick prescription. I was so desperate from a sinus infection I just took the prescription and left, chocking up the behavior to his excessive senior citizen status.

Within months, I was back with another sinus infection. This time I was seen by the young colt of the group. He spoke excessively fast. He answered his phone during the check up, and then he actually left the exam room mid-sentence. MY mid-sentence to be exact. This time, although I took the prescription, I knew I wouldn’t be back.

While we will fight for the best care for our kids, I  wonder how often we put up with this behavior or worse when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

Just what can you expect from your personal doctor? Your physician should:

  • Take time to listen and absorb what you say
  • Not accept phone calls or interruptions unless it’s a medical emergency or necessity
  • Thoroughly explain your condition and/or next steps
  • Give you well-written directions for any medications
  • Follow-up with you if you have a more serious condition
  • Gently remind you about the things you are avoiding (like weight loss or a cholesterol screening)
  • Apologize for making you wait or have their staff communicate the waiting issue (There are lots of reasons for a longer wait time, but there is no reason for a lack of communication.)

What are the red flags you look for in a physician?


  1. I’m experiencing a lot of things for the first time with my new dr (expecting my first). The thing that worries me a lot is I feel like I’m just a number. I’m rotated between a team of 4-5 dr’s and I feel like I’m meeting a stranger every single time I go. My husband has felt a little weird and has asked me to reconsider a new dr bc our first visit to see an ultrasound is an amazing experience. The dr just put the jelly on saw an image, snapped the picture printed it and handed it to us. Didn’t let us take a look at it, let it sink in, nothing. I feel like sometimes you do just have to move on. You’re paying them for a VERY expensive service they should make it worth your money.

    1. Having your first child made me hyper aware of my doctors, too. They do the rotation in the group so you’ve at least met everyone in case someone else has to deliver your baby. So it’s very common practice and not unusual at all.

      That’s very unusual in the case of just taking a pic and moving on. I would expect that from a technician but not from a doctor. I think sometimes they forget part of their job is the communicate with you too.

  2. Doctors do not seem to really listen the way they used to–whether this has to do with the fact that they are forced by the reimbursement system in our country to see more and more patients in a short time span is probably part if not most of the reason. That however does not excuse them not listening and hearing what you have to say!

    1. I completely agree. I see a great internist who manages to do his job and still take the time to connect.

  3. I had one that was chronically late, he was the best doctor I ever had but when it is a constant 3 hour after your time to be there lateness then that was too much. I had to find a new one.

  4. I’m pretty sure I would have called the young doctor out on his rudeness right then and there! As for the older doctor I probably just wouldn’t go back. Sucks having to go through that!

    1. I was so sick that I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. At that point, I just wanted to get out of there andnot deal with him.

  5. Andrea Smith says:

    I don’t even have a doctor. My daughter goes to the pediatrician and tends to get the same cod, but any one of 4 can see her.

    Inwould fire my doc in a second if I had one and was not happy.

    1. Andrea Smith says:

      *Doc (not cod, lol)

    2. Andrea Smith says:

      *I would

      Man I need a typist not a doctor I guess.

  6. I have no tolerance for bad doctors, I have had some really bad ones too. I have been stuck with them because of limited insurance etc. I personally feel like good health care is hard to find.

    1. I think really good doctors are hard to find. So I’ve put up with the schmucks until I’ve found a good one.

  7. And despite these I am sure people will hesitate to fire their doctors
    For me it is a rude staff they are a reflection of the doctor

    1. I know they will. I remember the first time I “fired” a doctor and my friends were surprised. It was such a foreign concept to them.

  8. I will say this I have fired a couple doctors and I have made one quit on me 🙂 lol I have also went off on them before, like in emergency room. I’m not one to be given any crap, especially about something I know is wrong and it’s being ignored. When I was pregnant, I kept saying something is not right. No one wanted to listen to me so my son was born early by 2 full months premature. He weighed in @ 3lbs 10oz and 16in he was the cutest little old man looking baby lol

    since my pregnancy began I knew something wasnt right, I had Pre-eclampsia, HeLLp Syndrome, RH Factor, Blood Pressure out of this world. I literally lost almost 30lbs of water over night! that is no joke! I had to have 2 blood transfusions, my son did too. he had undeveloped lungs, stayed for 3 weeks only in the hospital (till he weighed 5lbs). I was so happy he was home, but scared at the same time cause he was so little! Through out my pregnancy I went through several doctors.

    This was my first and last pregnancy, since I was already 30 years old, I opted in for a tubal while I had my Cesarean. One was good for me 🙂 and I had a boy just what I wanted. I never thought I’d get pregnant, he was a real surprise. Okay I went a little off subject, I say never be afraid though to tell your doctor that’s it! Your Fired! 🙂 It could save your life or someone else’s!

  9. We are actually in the process of looking for a new doctor for our kids as the one we currently have always shoved the kids to the practitioners. They treat us like business, there is no personal connection at all.

  10. Some doctors can be so rude where they will only after for your money. I’m glad our doctors are professionals ad does really care…

    1. It’s true that some doctors just see this as a business. And trust me, I have moved on from some and let another one that he was officially FIRED.

  11. So far I haven’t encountered a rude doctor but there was one whom I didn’t like when he kept on insisting that I should have an epidural during my first pregnancy. I’m glad his shift was finally over and another doctor came in and it was a woman. I felt relieved and have a successful normal delivery without epidural.

    1. Good for you for sticking to what was right for you. And you’ve been very fortunate never to have to fire a doctor. It isn’t fun but is a must.

  12. In my experienced here, I encountered one doc in the ER where we went because i have problems, she must be tired and don’t understand me at all. however my ob, and pe doc are nice so far.

  13. Great post. I think this a very hard thing for most people to do. Like you said in an earlier comment, you were already feeling vulnerable and sick when you went to the doctor, you were in no state for a confrontation. This is an important reminder that at its very base, medicine is a service industry and if you are not getting the service you deserve, you should move on!

  14. Hi there! Thank you for inviting me to your Friday Flash Blog! This is an interesting post, and of course; I have to put my 2 cents in, too! 🙂 Since I’ve moved (to where we’re living now) I’ve barely seen a doctor except for my OB/GYN. She referred me to a neurologist… who talked really fast, who seemed to get annoyed when I asked questions, and saw me in less than 5 minutes!!! I was really disappointed, needless to say I haven’t been back to see him.

  15. stanleyandkatrina says:

    Fantastic post and a great reminder. I need to fire a couple of doctors. Not sure why I put up with lack of listening when I wouldn’t deal with that from any other company. Thanks, Jenny.
    Cool Mom (Christine M.)

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