Brenda Della Casa had been seeing her primary care physician for two years and had brushed off her concerns about getting rushed care - until she had a health scare she couldn’t ignore. She told her doctor she was experiencing terrible back pain and stomachaches. Her doctor checked her, said she was fine, and sent her on her way.
Five days later, Della Casa, an author and dating coach in Chicago, was traveling and had pains so severe she could barely move. When she received a voicemail from her doctor saying she had “misread her results” and needed to be treated immediately for a kidney infection, she was furious. “I decided then and there I would never see her again,” Della Casa tells WebMD.
When Nancy Levitt's mother was first diagnosed with dementia 14 years ago at age 78, the doctor told her she could safely drive to familiar places. But Levitt, 61, who volunteers at UCLA's Center on Aging in Los Angeles, was still nervous. Unexplained nicks and dents started appearing on her mother's car. She forgot where she parked. Levitt tried to discuss driving safety with her mother, but she angrily denied there was a problem. Then, she would forget their talks about driving altogether.
Breaking up with your doctor is not a choice most people take lightly, but there may come a time when it's the single best decision for you and your health. Some patients have had complaints that have been mounting over the years. Others decide to fire their doctor after one heated episode - perhaps because of a missed diagnosis like Della Casa, a disagreeable interaction, or a health concern that was dismissed.
"Patients don’t want to break up with their doctor," says Gregory Makoul, PhD, Chief Academic Officer at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn. "They will often put up with a relationship that isn’t going great for them."
But that may be a mistake.
"It’s critical to remember it’s a relationship," Makoul tells WebMD. "People often think it’s a one-way relationship, but the doctor is invested, too. If you think it’s a business transaction, you’re missing an important part of the picture."
Wait, Can You Hear Me Now?
Ann Middleman, a marketing research consultant in Westbury, N.Y., had been seeing the same ob-gyn for more than eight years. During a routine check-up, she was surprised to learn she had gained 10 pounds. When she asked if her thyroid should be checked, her question was dismissed. Instead, the doctor responded, "You eat too much!"