Breaking Up With Your Doctor
Is your doctor-patient relationship on the rocks? Find out if it's time to move on.
Wait, Can You Hear Me Now? continued...
After the appointment, Middleman wrote a letter to the office explaining
that the doctor had been rude and insensitive so she would no longer need her
services. "I don’t consider myself too demanding," she says. "I expect somebody
to treat me with respect, honesty, and politeness -- someone who talks to me
like I'm a human being."
The most common complaint, when these conflicts arise, is that people feel
like they’re not being heard or understood, says George Blackall, PsyD, author
of Breaking the Cycle: How to Turn Conflict Into Collaboration When You and
Your Patients Disagree and professor of pediatrics and humanities at Penn
State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.
Keep in mind that this is a partnership, Blackall says, where both parties
bring expertise to the table. The physician brings medical expertise and the
patients bring the expertise of knowing their body and preferences for
treatment and care.
"The core assumption is that both parties are trying really hard to help the
person get better," Blackall says. "There are times in a doctor-patient
relationship where there are going to be outright disagreements. It's actually
So when is it time to fire your doctor? "If you feel in your heart that
you’ve given your best effort to build a partnership with your physician and it
hasn't happened, then it's time to move on," Blackall says. "If a person
decides that it’s time to move on, it should be a conscious choice, not one
made out of haste or anger."
When Your Styles Don’t Mesh
When Crystal Brown-Tatum, a public relations firm owner in Shreveport, La.,
was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she sought out a female oncologist.
She says she initially found her doctor “pleasant and caring." But as her
treatment progressed, Brown-Tatum found her doctor to be too clinical, less
compassionate, and desensitized to her needs.
"I began to dread going to see her," Brown-Tatum tells WebMD by email. So
she decided to find another oncologist. The final straw was a scheduling
mistake. Brown-Tatum used that as the reason for switching practices, because
she didn’t want to hurt the doctor’s feelings.