A robot doctor turns his back on a patient and takes notes.

Why I Want to Change Doctors

Folks, if your medical care has gone anything like mine, you have probably met at least one doctor that you wanted to throttle right there in the examining room. Take neurologists. There were times when I scanned a neuro’s wall for credentials, skeptical that this knucklehead was actually board certified. After satisfying myself that there was no diploma conferred by the Wizard of Oz for killing the Wicked Witch of the West, there was only one possibility left to explain such willful ignorance: they really wanted to go into podiatry, but a career counselor persuaded them that neurology wasn’t as gross as handling people’s feet all day. Lucky us! But wait, I am not going to deliver a rant about yet another dimwit masquerading as a neurologist. It’s about an excellent primary care doc that is driving me up a wall and I am not sure what to do about it. Maybe if I write down the negatives and positives here, I will get some clarity.

The importance of good bedside manner

First I want to point out that she is an excellent primary care doctor with an impressive background in emergency medicine. I am happy with the quality of care; it is the bedside manner that sets my teeth on edge.

She does not listen to me

Example:

Me:  I was using a neti pot and getting wonderful results. But then it started burning, so I stopped using saline and tried only water. It still burned.

Doctor: Salt solution can be an irritant. You really ought to try using just water.

See what I mean? That’s how it goes every time I see her. There are other examples too, but I want to describe the main pros and cons. (By the way, I discovered that the burning was neuropathic. I stopped using the neti pot all together. Thank you, multiple sclerosis.)

Pro: Ideal office location and services

Besides doctors, NPs and nurses, the medical building also provides a walk-in clinic and lab. It is only 3 miles from my home. It’s an ideal location where I can attend an appointment and get bloodwork right after that in the same building. Afterward, it’s only another 2 miles to visit my pharmacy, grocery store, bank, post office, and home.

Con: Their procedures exhaust me

While the location and services are ideal, their procedures exhaust me. But before I go into that, I want to make something very clear: I’m acutely aware that managed care means bean counters dictate what tests doctors should and should not order and how much time they should spend with patients. It must be a constant aggravation for them, and I do sympathize. I also feel compassion and sympathy for medical teams who have to spend so much time updating our electronic medical records (EMR). It hasn’t been an easy transition for them. The system isn’t at all intuitive, and they struggle to find the right screens. Also, I am very aware of how busy they are and that there is little time to read the EMRs. It’s easier for them to rely on my memory. I have expressed my sympathy and awareness to them several times. Now I will resume my complaining.

Waiting 90 minutes for my appointment to begin

I spend an average of 90 minutes in the waiting room. This is for an appointment, not a walk-in. I am either alone in the waiting room or with one other person. When I am finally called back, I am lead to the scales and commanded to mount them. I have bad balance and feel at risk for falling when I climb onto those things. I have a very low-profile scale at home that I use every morning without putting myself in danger of losing my balance. So I started refusing to hoist myself on doctor’s scales a couple of years ago. Instead, I tell them my morning weight.

No assistance

I got away with it until a week ago. The nurse insisted I get on the scale. I explained my problem with it and she didn’t care. Since I needed to see the doctor, I complied and struggled to step up and steady myself. She did nothing to help me. Later, she insisted I climb up on the examining table. I struggled to climb up two steep steps and again with no assistance.

Endless, repetitive questions

Then the grilling began. You know, those 10,000 questions they ask you and then type the responses into your electronic medical record. Only this time I saw three people — the nurse, the PA-in-training, and the doctor — all of whom asked the same 10,000 questions. I was exhausted and stressed, and my doctor kept pushing unnecessary info at me, oblivious to my challenges. I walked out vowing to find another doc in another facility.

What would you do?

Please share your ideas, I’d be grateful for some objective input.

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