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What Makes You Leave Your Doctor?

November 5th, 2008 · 12 Comments

Last week I had an appointment with a doctor I see occasionally when a mild problem acts up.  On my previous appointment with him, I waited 2 hours, and his staff never said what was causing the delay.  So this time, I oh-so-cleverly scheduled my appointment at 8:20 am, thinking quick in and out first thing in the morning, before his schedule gets backed up.  Good try, but he didn’t appear until an hour and 10 minutes later.

man waiting in doctor's office

There are other issues about his medical practice as well.  His staff is loud.  Several curse in the hallway between examining rooms.  They complain about being at work, and complain about all their other personal problems.  Yikes!!

While I was waiting, I questioned if I should follow up again with this physician or not.  On the positive side, when he finally saw me, he was thorough, pleasant and took the time to help me clearly understand what my medical problem was and the plan of treatment he recommended.

I’m undecided.  How do you decide to stay or go, if you experience way-less-than-than-ideal medical treatment?

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12 responses so far ↓

  • Maureen // Nov 5, 2008 at 9:33 am

    If you are truly satisfied with the doctor, you might try discussing it with him. Let him know about your wait time and the staff issues and see how he responds. Of course if he gets defensive, you might have to leave him anyway, but perhaps he is unaware of the issues and would try to correct them?

    Just a thought. . .


  • Barbara K. // Nov 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I tend to stick with the clinician if I think he or she is remarkable, regardless of other more environmental impediments. Great doctors are rare – so I tolerate the nuisances.

  • emily // Nov 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    if it were issues like this – i would talk to the office manager, telling him/her that i was considering finding a new doctor because of the problems. i guess i’d want to give them a chance to fix it.

  • Lisa // Nov 5, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I, too, have been going around and around trying to decide if I should change doctors right now. There are so many issues to consider. I really LIKE my doctor I have right now but he truly doesn’t understand my RSD/CRPS. He is good about prescribing the necessary pain medicines that I need to help stave off the majority of my pain but he truly doesn’t understand the disease. I am wondering if I should switch to a doctor that better understands my disease. But what happens if you make the switch and things are not so great over at the new doctor? Waiting times may be horrible, the staff may be not so nice, she may want to totally change my medications which have been working for me for a while now, or even worse, want to discontinue my medications! But more closely related to your original post, I have to go to see a doctor at the wound care center at the hospital and for the last 3 weeks, I have had to wait anywhere from 90 to 150 minutes for the doctor to come in to my room for my appointment. By the time he gets in to see me, I am fuming mad at having to wait so long. I am also in a lot of additional pain because of the way I have had to sit on a cart with my RSD legs very uncomfortable. The more angry I become, the more pain I feel I am in. Then I have to deal with him cutting on my leg with a surgical knife and end up crying anyway. I have knick-named him Dr. “Cut and Cry”. It is extremely painful what he is doing to me with the knife and cutterage each week and with the emotional frustration added in, it is very annoying and I just wish I could quit going. But I can’t. I have spoken to the office manager two of the three weeks this has happened and I am afraid she is starting to think that I am a complainer but I feel that this wait time is unacceptable and uncalled for.


  • MaxJerz // Nov 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    The others had some good suggestions. I also wanted to point you toward this quick little quiz on It’s geared toward Migraine patients, but is useful for other docs too.

    Be well,

  • How to Cope with Pain // Nov 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks for everyone’s perspective.

    @ Lisa – 1 suggestion for your first point would be to have a consultation with a new doctor before transferring your care. You can meet, discuss your case, see what recs the new doctor might have, then go home and think about it. Some doctors will even have fairly brief discussions – 15 or 20 minutes – without charge, when you’re just asking about their approach.

    The balance of worrying about being a complainer versus speaking up about problems is a tough one!

  • Diana // Nov 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    I hope you’re able to work things out. It’s really unacceptable to keep people waiting like that barring exigent circumstances.

    Lots of great advice here!

  • jeisea // Nov 7, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I guess it depends on the situation doesn’t it. I’m inclined to agree with Barbara. If you have faith and confidence in your doctor then it seems worth continuing. I mentioned to a specialist once that his receptionist was curt etc. I was very nice and apologized for bringing up the subject but made it clear that he could lose patients because of her attitude and behaviour. He was most grateful and said that he would help her to understand his expectations in communicating with patients.

    Personally I would also ask which appointment times incurred shorter waiting times.

    My GP has a policy of bulk billing all patients. This means no one pays. He makes it quite clear that he gives the time to people who require it. The idea is that one day maybe you will need longer. We all wait often but are very satisfied with his service.

  • Bella // Nov 12, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I have a physician that is very similar to what you’ve described. What I did to combat the lengthy waiting time was I innocently inquired about why it takes so long to actually get to see him. The kind staff person explained: The begining of his day/appointments, he immediately is off schedule going forward because he spends the time with each of his patients and isn’t on the quick “in-and-out” schedule you see with most. I really began to notice his genuine dedication with me when I visited and because it is a rarity these days, I plan out extra hours just to see him and I wait. I’ve learned to bring things that help the time pass (even for when I finally get into the exam room). Sometimes, I bring along a loved one to catch up. Hope this helps. ~Bella

  • How to Cope with Pain // Nov 12, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Reading material is crucial and I do bring it, so I usually don’t mind waiting – but waiting a bit, not 1-2 hours. I guess it was the unprofessionalism of the staff that got to me. And with a wait, I believe offices should tell you why there’s a wait, and an estimated time the doctor will get there. With my last 2 visits, I had to leave in the middle of sitting in the exam room to re-feed my parking meter, too. Perhaps next time I should just park in a lot, so time isn’t crucial. I had also tried to avoid going later in the day, and was frustrated when that didn’t work either.

    But I agree with people’s general sentiment that one’s interaction with the doctor is what’s most crucial, and try to work around everything else.

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone!

  • carol // Sep 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I find that the docs who make me wait, and usually it is my ophthalmologist, do it because they overbook, pure and simple.
    Other times however, for my neuro for instance it is because he does take longer with some folks than others.
    Personally I think talking to office staff about their behavior you find unacceptable is not an answer.
    I had an ophthalmology tech say something unbelievably cruel to me. After first asking more than once, I demanded an apology. None was forthcoming. Finally the office manager offered to apologize for her but that was not acceptable. It was the tech who said it and she was the one who should have apologized. I had been coming to the office for years and never had a problem with the office staff or doc nevertheless I received a letter telling me I was so “unpleasanr” that I was no longer welcome at the practice. Funny how I was never found to be unpleasant for years prior to this incident. The tech was imporatnt to this doc, his longtime patient was not.

  • The gold digger // Oct 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I changed doctors after getting tired of my OB/GYN always – ALWAYS – running late (without excuse or apology). This was in a 15-doc practice, so it’s not like he was always delivering a baby. When you have 15 OBs, you can schedule properly.

    I also did not appreciate the 19 year old receptionist calling me by my first name.

    My new doc is great. He is almost always on time. His staff introduce themselves and wear nametags and call me “Ms Digger” instead of “Gold.” And my doc is really really nice and patient.

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