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Reader Survey Results: What characteristics made the worst doctor you’ve ever had so bad?

June 18, 2017 Uncategorized 2 Comments


I asked readers what characteristics made the worst doctor they’ve ever had so bad.

Poor personal hygiene.

Seems otherwise occupied; rushes visit.

One who makes me feel their time with me is inconvenient.

Arrogance is a huge problem. Refusal to learn about new programs is a huge roadblock.

That’s easy – his inability to ask questions and listen. The result? Several misdiagnoses.

Two of my PCPs stand out as the worst in my experience:
1. One asked for candor but didn’t seem to want it. In my early college days, I disclosed during a social history check that I did, in fact, have a few drinks per month. The doctor was distinctly colder to me throughout the rest of the checkup.
2. Another decided that it was easier to assume I was lying about my symptoms than do the due diligence. This doctor actually told me that what later turned out to be a legitimate respiratory problem was “all in my head” and probed me for what might be “going on in my life” that I was lying about this problem to avoid.

Arrogance, cockiness, thinking they know your own body better than you, unwilling to listen to or quickly dismissing questions of serious concern to the patient, rushing the visit because the last guy took too long and patients are waiting in the lobby.

She made snap judgments about my health state. Continually ignored data that didn’t match her snap diagnosis and then put a pregnancy at risk because she didn’t ask better probing questions to figure out I was having gallbladder attacks.

I was willing to forgive this and a long, fear-ridden pregnancy because to some degree my symptoms were asymptomatic, BUT she then instituted a rule after years of delayed, long waiting times that if you as a patient were late for an appointment, that she would not  give you your full time slot. At my very first appointment after giving birth and having post-partum gallbladder removal, the first time she’d seen me since missing a year’s long series of gallbladder attacks, she had a very embarrassed nurse tell me that because I was 10 minutes late I wouldn’t get my full annual appointment check up. I got dressed, left the room, and changed doctors.

Two separate doctors who told me that my (very real) pain was all in my head and that I needed to "relax." This kind of disregard and automatic dismissal of the patient is chronic in treatment (or I guess non-treatment) of "women’s issues." If something I’m experiencing is bad enough that not only am I going to take a day off to go to your office, but I’m going to get my feet up in stirrups … you better not call me a liar.

New patient visit with physician who had little interest in hearing what the patient had to say and didn’t perform any type of exam. She read the MA intake notes, told me what labs she would order, and that she’d see me back after the labs were received. She then advised that the problems that prompted the visit were, in her expert opinion, generally due to poor diet and she highly recommended I purchase the diet supplements sold in her practice. She billed the visit to my insurance as a comprehensive new patient examination (something that requires a complete physical exam!). I never returned and filed a complaint with my insurance company regarding her fraudulent billing (which unfortunately went nowhere because apparently patient complaints to the insurance company don’t matter).

Thinking they are always right.

He was infuriated that after spending a good half hour with me discussing my needs, I decided to have my surgery and care provided by another physician. He practically threw me out of his office and threatened to call security if I didn’t immediately leave.

Physical: unclipped fingernails on a dentist.

Cold. Conversation was awkward. On a follow-up visit, she entered the room and just stared at me, as if it was up to me to initiate the discussion. So … last time you saw me …

An unwillingness to listen and an attitude that he knew everything and was always right, which was not true!

Would not listen,acted liked I was bothering him, and then seriously misdiagnosed me on top of it all. It was the beginning of me looking to alternative medicine for at least some problems.

Lack of respect for me and my problems.

Disinterest in patient, deferential attitude, otherwise preoccupied, feeling like patient was wasting doctor’s time.

Not explaining the pros and cons of recommended medications to me during labor and generally being dismissive of my questions. This was not my regular OB but the hospitalist who happened to be on call when I was triaged with my first child.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Seeing so many complaints that are so similar — doctor is uninterested, rude, dismissive — makes me wonder why these people go into medicine, since they demonstrably do not like providing medical care to actual human beings.

    • I’d say it’s an issue of burnout. When you’re constantly behind and scrambling to get through everything only to go home at 6 and document for another 3 or 4 hours you’re probably going to be pretty absent when you’re in the exam room. Not saying it’s right but it’s the reality of healthcare today.

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