We hold doctors and other medical professionals in high regard, trusting their judgment by default. But doctors aren’t perfect; they’re capable of making mistakes and providing bad service, just like anyone else in any profession. If you feel neglected, unheard, or uncared for by your doctor, you may no longer trust them.
So what can you do?
Reasons to Mistrust Your Doctor
There are many good reasons to question your trust in your doctor. Medical malpractice is more common than most people realize – and it can have a devastating effect on your health and finances.
These are just a few red flags you should learn to take seriously:
· New information about knowledge or experience. Have you found out that your doctor’s knowledge and/or experience is lacking? For example, did you learn that some of their credentials are in question? Or do they insist on something being true that you know for sure is incorrect?
· Recommendations that haven’t worked. Medicine isn’t always an exact science, and doctors don’t always recommend the best remedy 100 percent of the time. But if your doctor has consistently recommended things that don’t work, or if they’ve given you a treatment that ends up making things worse, you should have some skepticism of their ability to treat you.
· Feeling ignored or dismissed. Many people feel ignored or dismissed when visiting a doctor – and they shouldn’t. If you have a legitimate concern about taking a medication, your doctor should listen to you. If you have a question about a specific treatment or how something works, they should provide you with an honest or thoughtful answer. If you think your condition is getting worse, you need to feel heard. If you’re not getting the open, two-way dialogue you need, it may be time to move on.
· Feeling like you’re talking to a salesperson. Suggestions that big pharmaceutical companies and doctors are working together in a secret cabal are unfounded conspiracy theories – but there’s no question that most doctors have preferred treatments to prescribe to their patients. Some are motivated by old habits while others are motivated by financial incentives; in any case, if you feel like your doctor is trying to sell you on a treatment you don’t want to take, it can feel demoralizing.
· Unresolved contradictions. Are there inherent contradictions in what this doctor has said or what they’ve recommended to you? For example, have they insisted on a truth that doesn’t seem supported by evidence? Have they told you two seemingly contradictory truths about your condition? Are they flip-flopping in any way?
· A bad feeling. You don’t need a concrete, formal reason to doubt your doctor. In fact, even a bad feeling should be enough to justify your concerns. If your doctor makes you feel uncomfortable, or if it feels like there’s something that’s simply “not right,” that’s enough for you to take the next step.
Steps to Take Next
What can you do if you no longer trust your doctor?
· Have a frank conversation. In some cases, you may feel inclined to have a frank conversation with your doctor about your past experiences and what you’re currently feeling. If you have a lot of trust and previous experience, they may take the constructive criticism and work to hear you better in the future. However, in most cases, it’s better to skip this step and simply move on – especially if you suspect medical malpractice.
· Document everything you can. Document everything you can. Start recording your interactions with your doctor, keeping track of appointments, and keeping track of your recovery and/or physical progress. It may be helpful in getting a second opinion – and will be vital if you ever file a malpractice lawsuit.
· Get a second opinion. Getting a second opinion isn’t just acceptable in the medical community – it’s often encouraged. No matter how long a person went to school or how long they’ve worked in the field, they’re not going to be perfect. Sometimes, getting an alternative perspective is exactly what you need to get the best treatment. Your second doctor will be able to help you determine whether your primary doctor was right – and whether their suggestions were acceptable.
· Talk to a lawyer. If your secondary doctor suspects malpractice or if you feel harmed in any way, talk to a medical malpractice lawyer. They’ll be able to help you figure out the extent of the damages and whether you have a case on your hands.
Medical malpractice is a topic that demands to be taken seriously, and your health should always be your top priority. If you don’t feel safe with your doctor, or if you don’t feel like you’re getting the treatment you need, you’ll need to take action.