5 Big Red Flags When Choosing a Doctor
Times have certainly changed from even a decade ago when questioning your doctor was virtually unheard of. Though it’s happening slowly, it is happening, and little by little increasing numbers of people aren’t as intimidated by their doctors as they once were.
Doctors are human, too. And like all humans, there are good ones and there are bad ones … but no matter where your doctor falls on the scale, no doctor is a demigod that should never be questioned. In fact, many doctors have only been trained in the conventional Band-Aid “cover up your symptoms but don’t address the underlying cause” approach to health care, and many have been essentially “purchased” in the form of lavish dinners, gifts, vacations, and consulting money by Big Pharma.
The end result is … you simply have to question your doctor — that is, if you value your health.
Fortunately, more people are taking control of their own health, and part of that is having no fear to ask questions of their doctor … after all, this is YOUR health and YOUR body. With that in mind, here is the doctor to AVOID and what to look for instead …
If This Reminds You of Your Doctor … RUN!
5. He Doesn’t Take the Time to LISTEN to You … Carefully
Does your doctor remind you of Flash Gordon because of how quickly he speeds in and out of the exam room? Do you rush through your questions while your doctor has one foot already out the door? Do you leave your appointment with unanswered questioned?
This is not acceptable!
The doctor you want takes the time to listen to you — thoughtfully, sincerely and carefully. In fact, the last thing they say before they leave the room should be some variation of: “Have I answered all of your questions?” or “Is there anything else you need?”
4. She Acts Impatient or Offended When You Ask What’s Important to YOU
You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your doctor anything — nothing should be off limits. So if you find yourself hesitating to bring something up because you know it’s going to ruffle your doctor’s feathers, this is a very bad sign.
Examples of topics that many patients are afraid to address with their doctors, but which deserve proper attention include: vaccinations, medication side effects, alternatives to drugs/surgery, questions about your doctor’s credentials/experience and/or relationships to pharmaceutical companies and questions about medical errors.
Remember, your doctor is working for you, and as such has a duty to address any concern or question you have — that’s what you’re paying them for! If you doctors talks down to you, belittles you or “scolds” you for asking a question, it’s time to find a new doctor, quick.
3. He Doesn’t Practice Proper Hygiene
Did you know that, according to national estimates, doctors only wash their hands 30-40 percent of the time?[i] Even at the hospitals that are making a concerted effort to improve their safety records, hand-washing compliance is only up to 70 percent, which means 30 percent of the time hands are still not being washed. Yet, hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of hospital-acquired infections, which is a leading killer nationwide.
And it doesn’t matter if he’s wearing gloves, either, as research shows health care workers who wear gloves are less likely to wash in between patients, even though when the gloves are taken off it can cause germs and fluids to spray back onto their hands.[ii]
Your doctor should wash his hands immediately upon entering your room, in front of you. It’s the most basic measure of safety, and shows he is thinking about your health and well-being. As an aside, doctor’s neckties and white coats are also notoriously contaminated with infectious germs. A good doctor will have these items cleaned regularly to avoid making his patients sick.
2. She Doesn’t Keep Reasonable Hours
Do you feel like you can only see your doctor on her terms? Do you have to wait months for an appointment, or find that she’s never available when you need her? A doctor should keep regular hours for routine appointments, as well as have availability to fit you in for a more pressing concern. She should also be reachable via telephone, and should return your calls, or if appropriate have a nurse return your calls, each and every time you call.
A doctor with unreasonable hours is worthless to you, as you’ll never get the help when you need it most!
1. He Frowns or Basically Ignores You When You Ask About Alternative Treatments
This is a sign that your doctor is not up to date on the most current research, which shows that many alternative treatments are not only effective but often far safer than drugs and surgery. That, or he is thoroughly entrenched with the pharmaceutical industry and has some incentive to write more prescriptions.
Either way, your doctor should work with you on the treatment methods you are most interested in, and if he is not familiar with the alternative treatments personally, should refer you to someone who is. Many experts now agree that a holistic, comprehensive approach, one that uses the very best of both conventional and alternative medicine is often the best.
If your doctor makes you feel like alternative treatments are off-limits, it’s another red flag that this doctor does not have your best interest at heart.
It’s Up to You to Take Control of Your Health!
Choosing the right doctor for you is one of the most important health care decisions you can make. And here’s the thing — it might not be one doctor.
Oftentimes a health care team will give you the best mix of perspectives and treatment options. The bottom line is that you should feel empowered when you leave your appointments, and as though you have a plan in place to not only relieve your symptoms but to truly heal your health condition.
You should also gain insight into strategies that you yourself can use, such as these 101 Back Pain Relief Tips, which most doctors will not tell you about (and probably don’t even know of themselves!). Other examples would be dietary interventions, exercise techniques, stress-management tips — things that allow you to be an active participant in your health, rather than a “patient” that needs to be “treated.”
Remember: it’s your body, and it’s your LIFE. Because of this, YOU are the BEST advocate for your own health.
Written By: Updated: July 3,2012