03.14.2017

10 reasons to fire your doctor!

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This article on “10 reasons to fire your doctor” was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. While I know there are both male and female physicians, I have used the pronoun “he” throughout this article for ease of reading. 

Is your doctor not listening to you? Is he disrespectful? Is his treatment plan ineffective? Then it might be time to fire your doctor!

Visit any online fibromyalgia support group, and you’ll probably encounter plenty of physician horror stories. I’ve read accounts of doctors yelling at their patients, calling them fat and lazy, saying their symptoms are all in their heads and worse.

Whenever I see these posts, my comment is always the same: Find a new doctor!

Yes, I know sometimes it’s not that easy. Some people are in circumstances where it’s not an option to switch doctors, but most of us DO have a choice in which doctor we see for our medical care.

And yet, time and time again, I see patients who allow themselves to be abused by so-called medical professionals. Why do we allow this to happen? Physicians don’t get a pass from basic human decency just because they have a fancy medical degree and make lots of money.

I think it’s time for us to start treating our physicians as we do other customer service providers. We are paying them for a service, right? So here are nine situations where it’s perfectly acceptable to fire your doctor and seek out a new one!

1.

He doesn’t believe in fibromyalgia

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia, and there are more than 9,000 fibro-related studies listed on PubMed, the largest online database for medical research. Considering that, there should be no question that fibromyalgia is a real condition, but shockingly there are still doctors who don’t believe in it.

If you ever encounter a physician who says fibro doesn’t exist or something similar (i.e. fibromyalgia isn’t a real diagnosis, fibromyalgia is a wastebasket diagnosis, etc.), RUN as fast as your fatigued legs will carry you out of that exam room and don’t look back!

You are wasting your time if you’re working with a physician who doesn’t believe in fibromyalgia. After all, he’s not going to properly treat what he won’t even acknowledge.

2.

He says it’s all in your head

There’s research indicating fibromyalgia pain originates in the brain, but that’s not what most doctors mean when they say, “It’s all in your head.” What they really mean is this: You’re crazy. You’re a hypochondriac. You’re making it up. You’re just a pill seeker. Blah, blah, blah.

When I was shuffling from doctor-to-doctor trying to get diagnosed, I ran into the “it’s all in your head” mentality way too many times. Most of the physicians didn’t come right out and say those words verbatim, but it was implied when they repeatedly tried to diagnose me with depression and prescribe an antidepressant.

If a physician says or insinuates it’s all in your head, use your head and find a new doctor!

3.

He isn’t trying to help you

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious, difficult-to-treat illness, but that isn’t an excuse for your doctor to give up on you as a patient. If he’s not doing his job by trying to find solutions for your pain, fatigue and other symptoms, then make it your job to find a doctor who will!

4.

He gets annoyed when you make suggestions

I believe patients should take an active role in their medical care by staying up to date on the latest research and treatments for their illness. Unfortunately, a lot of doctors don’t appreciate Dr. Google medical degrees. They become irritated or make snide remarks when their patients bring in research studies or ask about certain treatments.

I’m not sure why they behave this way. Maybe they’re aggravated that they spent eight-plus years in medical school and know less about fibromyalgia than we do. Maybe they’re control freaks and are threatened because they feel like we’re questioning their expertise.

Whatever the reason, fibromyalgia is an extremely challenging condition to manage. What works for one of us doesn’t work for all of us, so you need a physician who is open to discussing and trying different treatment options. If your physician shuts you down when you make suggestions regarding your treatment, it may be time to consider shutting the door on that doctor/patient relationship.

5.

He doesn’t listen to you

My former nurse practitioner was instructed by her employer to limit all patient appointments to 12 minutes. Putting tight time limits like that on physicians almost guarantees that they’re constantly going to be multitasking (i.e. looking at their computer screen or tablet while you’re talking) and rushing to get to the next patient.

We’ve probably all encountered those situations where we’re still asking questions as our doctors are walking out of the exam room door, but if it happens every single time you see your doctor, then maybe you should lighten his workload by being one less patient he has to see.

6.

He disrespects you

This can come in many forms. Maybe he yells or laughs at you. Maybe he shames you for taking pain medications. Maybe he discounts your symptoms (i.e. “oh, you’re just getting older,” “I hurt all the time, too,” etc.). Whatever form it takes, it’s wrong! Don’t let yourself be neglected or abused by the very person who is supposed to be helping you!

7.

He says, “You wouldn’t have fibro if…”

There are too many variations of “you wouldn’t have fibro if…” to list, but here are some common ones:

You wouldn’t have fibro if you lost some weight.

You wouldn’t have fibro if you exercised.

You wouldn’t have fibro if you would just get up and move more. 

Yes, there are studies that say exercise is helpful for managing fibromyalgia symptoms. Yes, many of us do feel better when we’re closer to our ideal weight. Yes, it’s good to be active.

But there is NO study anywhere that says fibromyalgia is caused by being fat, lazy or not exercising. Exercise is NOT a cure for fibromyalgia, and neither is diet. They are tools – not cures! Your doctor knows this, and it’s disingenuous to imply otherwise.

8.

He tells you to “stop thinking about it” 

One time I had a doctor say to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you need to stop thinking so much about your pain.”

Yeah, doc, you’re absolutely right. If I just stop thinking about my pain, it will disappear! Wow, you’ve cured me! (Insert eye roll here.)

Needless to say, I am no longer a patient of that doctor because he obviously doesn’t understand the day-to-day life of a chronic pain patient. I don’t know why some doctors try to invalidate our symptoms. Maybe they feel helpless that their usual tools – pharmaceutical drugs and surgery – can’t fix us.

But regardless of why, if a physician’s advice is to “stop thinking about it,” that’s a signal that you may need to start thinking about replacing him!

9.

He says, “At least you don’t have cancer”

Look, I know the big “C” strikes terror in pretty much everyone. I don’t discount how serious it is, but at least cancer has a finality about it. As harsh as this sounds, you either get better or you die, and in most cases, you’ll know the outcome fairly quickly.

With fibromyalgia, you’re basically suffering for years and years with no end in sight. Maybe there will be a breakthrough in research tomorrow, or maybe it’ll be 100 years from now when all of us are long gone. Who knows if and when the pain will end?

Comparing fibromyalgia to cancer is another way for physicians to invalidate us as patients, and it’s just plain wrong!

10.

He blames everything on fibromyalgia

After you’ve had fibromyalgia for a while, it’s easy to ascribe every new symptom to “just fibro.” But what if those heart palpitations are a sign of a more serious problem? What if that pain in your hip is actually osteoarthritis and could be remedied with the right medication? What if the majority of your fatigue isn’t caused by fibromyalgia but by an undiagnosed thyroid condition?

Don’t allow your physician (or yourself) to fall into the habit of blaming every new symptom on “just fibro” because doing so can lead to unnecessary suffering and have tragic outcomes. You need a physician who will dig deeper and try to find the underlying causes of your symptoms. If your doctor isn’t doing that, then it may be time for you to dig into your health insurance’s online provider portal and find a new doctor!

Now it’s your turn…What’s the worst thing a physician has ever said to you? Share in the comments! 

You might also like…

A Canadian study found that up to 2/3 of fibromyalgia patients may be misdiagnosed.

What happens to the doctor/patient relationship when you become THAT patient ... that patient who does everything right and still doesn't get better ... THAT patient that doctors give up on...

Looking back at my own fibromyalgia journey, one quote comes to mind again and again: I wish I knew then what I know now. So, today I’m sharing what I wish someone had told me when I was first diagnosed. I hope it lessens someone else’s struggle.

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Comments

  1. Well this may work in some areas of the US but here in Greenwood, SC a person must submit a request to become a patient of a doctor’s practice. Since the doctors all talk to each other at social gatherings they do not like patients to apply to another doctor’s practice. So if someone were to “fire” their doctor they may end up not having a doctor at all.

  2. Every point is spot on, and love the little sarcastic bits 😉 I’ve also added your article for reference from a similar blog post I have here too!: http://www.achronicvoice.com/2016/01/25/is-my-doctor-right-for-me/

  3. I had a doctor tell me to just go home….. and give my husband a blow job! Sorry for the bluntness, but its TRUE!!!!!!

  4. After being denied disability again, I went through all of the testing again with a rheumatologist and neurologist. At the end, as I’m begging my neurologist to fix me, he says, “You have fibromyalgia. I’m going to send you to pain management.” I asked if he ever sees people get better from that? He said no. Then he said, “Do what you can do while you can do it…”
    Why even try???

  5. I was sharing updated research on CRPS with a Pain Management Team and they snickered and said “Don’t believe everything you see on TV.” I looked them straight in the eye and said ‘I read that in a medical journal, the study was done at Stanford.” They still discounted me and my intelligence. Thanks for this article!

  6. Kristina Fisher says:

    I’m not sure what horror story to share…my most recent (and painful) story still has me in disbelief, and it was almost 2 years ago. I had been seeing my pain management Dr for about 3 years, after terrible experiences with others. I have fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and I have had 3 Spinal fusion surgeries, before I was 30. The Dr I was seeing was maintaining my pain meds, not well, but I didn’t have many other options. I was in terrible pain for a few days. I could not dress myself and I could hardly go to the bathroom without help. I called my pain management Dr, they told me to come in. I was shocked when he spent 30 seconds doing an exam and said, “looks like you pulled a muscle, you need to rest for a few days.” My wife asked about my meds and he said he would adjust (the adjustment he was willing to make was a flat our joke) but I had to bring my current script in to him, and then he would adjust it. The office is 25 mins from my house. I cried the whole ride there. Any movement of the car was too much for me! My wife was not allowed to bring my medicine, I had to do it. Really?! I was in tears. Sobbing. He said someone would call me that week to schedule an MRI for in a few weeks. That was enough for me. We left. I was beside myself. My wife drove straight to the ER, I had an MRI a few hours later, was admitted to the hospital for an emergency fusion and decompression on 3 levels. I was in the hospital for a week. I hare when we are put off as we explain pain. I knew something was wrong. This was so different from my normal pain level. I went to my next appointment with them, about 3 weeks later. Told them I had surgery, and they fired ME! My plan was to tell him what happened and that I was going to be seeing a different dr, but they were too afraid to get sued. They told me I needed to give the Dr a written apology for crying and “cussing him out” (yeah, that didn’t happen.) My wife was with me, and even said we didn’t know what she was talking about. I didn’t see the Dr that day. I saw the receptionist. No joke. She handed me my scripts and told me to find a new dr, and ween myself off of the meds. I didn’t know she was a Dr. They also charged Medicare for me seeing the Dr that day. Funny, I never saw him. You can’t make this stuff up. I am blessed to be seeing the doctor I have 2 years later. My quality of life is better, and I know he actually cares about me. He listens to me. The way it should be.

  7. Jennfer Craine says:

    I had a homeopathic dr. swear that fibromyalgia isn’t real and that I was just undergoing adrenal fatigue. Yes, it may be possible that I have adrenal fatigue from not getting any quality sleep because of pain. I wanted to believe her so bad but the truth is that fibromyalgia is real. I will never go back to her.

  8. Simone says:

    I quit seeing my doctor after picking up prescriptions one day, and I asked the pharmacist, “why after three years am I not seeing any improvement, and having complications with medication.” She replied, “Oh, dear … You need to talk to your doctor. You are not anywhere you need to be in your condition. You are still on low doses in all your medication. You doctor should be increasing your medication incrementally.” Really?!! Apparently that doctor was so convinced it was all in my head that she had me on essentially placebo drugs to pacify me. That was enough to lose faith in that system. Now, I use holistic alternative care, good quality medicinal herbs only and I have monthly & yearly goals, and limitations on how long I try things with no change. I have been at this 30+ years (dealing with inscrutable health and pain issues).

  9. Bernadine Grooms says:

    I just recently fired my neurologist due to his lack of concern over refilling prescriptions in a timely manner. He would disregard my emails and requests directly from the pharmacist. The same would happen when I needed to replace my CPAP equipment. So after doing some research, I found a new clinic with a neurologist who cares about his patients. On the plus side, I have been blessed by a wonderful rheumatologist who does acknowledge fibro as a ligit disease and does everything in his power to help me feel better.

  10. Kari Jacob says:

    I’m in UK and very fortunate to be in a practice where all the doctors are interested in helping me. Where they fall down is when I want to try “alternatives”. Apparently it’s against the law here to suggest/support a patient with any med that isn’t on the official drug list. They can be struck off. What madness is this. So I just go ahead and try new things off my own bat, some of which work. Im waiting for cannabis to be legalised. It works nicely for pain!

  11. Cindy Montalbano says:

    I recently moved to Tucson. I am on Social Security disability period I’m not yet on Medicare. In Arizona instead of an affordable healthcare plan I am on the State Medicaid plan. Finding doctors here that accept this insurance has been extremely difficult. I have many more things wrong with me besides fibromyalgia. I know that osteopathic doctors are supposed to be a little bit more in tune with their patience. So I searched went out and found one. My first appointment was 20 minutes! She spent the first 10 minutes looking at my medical history from Medic Alert which I keep up-to-date as I wear the bracelet all the time, yelling about that there was just way too much going on and it was just too much for her. I asked her 3 times if I should find a new doctor. I finally started crying and then she got really upset with me and said she was going to leave and not come back if I didn’t stop. Then she said to me so you just your for pain medicine. I told her I wasn’t in fact that I needed to establish myself with a new doctor because I just moved to town and bought a place. She says will you have to go to a pain specialist and I said that was fine. I said I have lots of other things going on and I need to have a good doctor that can help me Wade through all the stuff that other doctors have put me on while I didn’t have insurance. I told her that obviously you can see I have a lot wrong with me and it’s not like I did it to myself on purpose. I said the first time I got cancer I was 28 years old I’ve had it three times. She finally calm down and I told her that she was a very abrasive woman period She said well this is how I am. I felt very stuck. She supposed to be an understanding compassionate person as well as my doctor and she is definitely not any of the first two things. The nurse came in after the doctor left and said you know she supposed to be a very good doctor all of her patients really like her. I’m thinking that they must be scared to death of her. I made a second appointment the following week and was supposed to go over my medications with her but the night before I found a lump in my breast. She made Italy made appointments for me to have the proper tests period but I still have to go back because she barely gives me 20 minutes when I go there. I cannot believe how horrible the healthcare is in Tucson Arizona. I have heard from so many people that this is how it is here. I am not sure whether to give this woman a chance because the second time I went the nurse said sometimes all have really bad days and things are super stressful and unfortunately we all don’t handle it very well. She was talking about the doctor obviously. She also wanted to know the doctor I mean why I wasn’t on antidepressants. I told her I wasn’t depressed period She says will they help with pain and I said they didn’t help me and I’ve tried many of them. I was on one for a very long time I told her and all it did was make me gain weight. I told her that I have a very bad reaction to the newer antidepressant. I seriously don’t know what to do. If I go to yet another doctor they’re going to think I’m Doctor shopping for drugs. I mean my insurance sucks the first doctor I was sent to was in the health clinic at a college. It’s ridiculous to be in this situation in this day and age and it’s only going to get worse with what’s happening in this country and our government.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      I know being labeled a doctor shopper is a very real concern these days, but I personally would not waste any more time on this doctor. She’s obviously overwhelmed and taking it out on her patients. That’s uncalled for!

  12. iI Hi all, I was diagnosed in January 2015 with fibro, after going through hell with severe pain,fatigue etc ect I put myself forward for clinical trials. Sadly they didn’t help and I did gain some extra weight from this. The worst thing said to me was from my Gp surgerys practice nurse (sister). I have been with this Gp for 25+ yrs and she is also my Fps wife. After discussing my Fibro and pains she said ” You’ve put on some weight dear, maybe cut down your portions otherwise we wont get you out of the house”. OUCH. How dare she, I was so upset and angry when I got home, not to mention in more pain from the journey. I haven’t been back to surgery since and don’t really know how to face it. Am currently searching for a new Gp but I’m limited finding one who understands fibro. I wish everyone well and thank you for giving me information on this horrible illness. God bless. from shaz in the uk.

  13. Before I was diagnosed with fibro, I was talking to my (then) doctor about some unexplained knee pain. He did not offer to explore the issue or look into it in any way. He just said “well, you’re too young for knee surgery”. Needless to say I no longer see this doc!

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