In many cases, medical professionals are doing their best to listen and take great care of your health. But if it seems like you
can't trust your doctor, you'll definitely want to seek a second opinion — or look for a new doctor entirely. And this can run the gamut from feeling like they aren't listening, to offering treatment plans you don't agree with.
You should leave every doctor's appointments feeling confident that they understood what you had to say, and that they're offering the best health advice possible. So, even though they have a medical degree, that
doesn't mean they're always right, or that every doctor/patient combo is the best.
"Remember, no one knows your body better than you," Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, of
Demystifying Your Health, tells Bustle. "If something doesn’t feel right and you don’t think your doctor is providing you with best solution, don’t be afraid to go elsewhere."
But even if you like your doctor and feel supported by them, you still may want more than one in your life. "Doctors are humans, so they can overlook things or draw the wrong conclusions," Wood says. "It never hurts to get a second opinion, which can help you get the right treatment or back up the initial diagnosis."
With that in mind, read on below for signs your doctor isn't being the most helpful or trustworthy, and that you may
want to find a new one.
You Can Tell They Aren't Listening
When you're experiencing a health concern — or simply going in for a checkup — you want to make sure the doctor is paying attention and actually hearing what you have to say.
That's why "it’s best to go with [someone] who puts down the chart and actively listens to what's going on with you," Neel Anand, MD, director of spine trauma at
Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, tells Bustle.
If they seem distracted or aren't taking the time to understand, you may want to begin the process of finding a new doctor.
They Rush Your Appointment
Similarly, you may not want to put much stock in someone who rushes your appointment. "As physicians, and depending upon our specialties, we're a busy bunch," Dr. Anand says. "But our most important time spent in a day is with our patients. If we don't allow them to give us a complete picture of their overall health, we can't help them effectively maximize it."
So go with someone who looks you in the eye, asks questions, and seems genuinely concerned. If you aren't getting that vibe, go elsewhere.
While some medical professionals may think they know it all, the ones you can trust are constantly learning and bettering themselves. So be on the lookout for signs your doctor is up to speed on the latest treatments.
You can even ask to see their resume, Dr. Andand says, where you can look for things like conferences they're attending, continued learning, and signs they teach
other doctors in their field, possibly by way of presenting conferences, conducting research studies, or writing journal articles or textbook chapters.
These are all signs your doctor knows what's up, and is a true specialist in their field.
Unless you're having an emergency, your doctor should never recommend a radical form of treatment, like a surgery, during your first appointment.
"What you really want is someone who will assess your condition over some period of time," Dr. Anand says, and tries the least invasive and disruptive approaches first.
While surgery may end up being necessary, listen to your gut. If it feels like things are happening too quickly, or if you're surprised they aren't trying other forms of treatment first, don't be afraid to seek a second opinion.
They Aren't Warm & Welcoming
Is your doctor, and everyone who works for them, approachable, compassionate, helpful, and knowledgeable?
"These are traits that patients should expect from their physicians and the people they employ," Dr. Anand says. "Depending on your condition and over the course of your chosen treatment, you may have several appointments wherein you'll be interacting with a doctor's staff as much as you will with the doctor."
Not only will this make for a better experience, but it shows they care about what happens to you, and want to be as helpful as possible.
They Suggest A Silly Cure
If you go to the doctor for a specific problem and they say it's "all in your head" or suggest a silly cure, that should raise some red flags, Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, owner of
Femina Physical Therapy, tells Bustle. You should feel confident that your concerns are being taken seriously, and that you're receiving sound medical advice.
They Diagnose You Right Away
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A doctor should never diagnose you within the first five minutes of your appointment, or jump to conclusions about what's causing your symptoms without first running tests to rule everything out, Wood says.
They Only Offer One Treatment Option
Consider it a red flag if your doctor only offers one treatment option, or claims that a certain drug will fix what ails you. As Wood says, "Your doctor should provide you with multiple treatment options, along with their pros and cons, so you can decide what’s best for you."
The Diagnosis Doesn't Sound Quite Right
While most doctors know what they're talking about, thanks to all those years of medical school, it's always OK to get more information.
"Once you do have a diagnosis, do your own research to confirm that the symptoms you’re experiencing match up to the illness that your doctor says you have," Wood says. "If you have any questions, ask your doctor about them. If your doctor is unable to answer your questions or you still have concerns, then you should see another doctor."
They Spend Less Than 10 Minutes With You
Unfortunately, doctor's offices are businesses and they often have to meet certain quotas and bring in a certain amount of money. But that doesn't make it OK for them to hurry you along.
"If your doctor frequently spends less than 10 minutes with you at each appointment, that may indicate that you are just a number,"
Dr. Jay Goodbinder, DC DABCI, tells Bustle. "The doctor likely cares about your health but the hospital or clinic they work at cares more about the numbers and cost of treatment so that's when you should move on a seek a second or third opinion from a medical professional."
They Don't Let You Ask Questions
Another red flag to consider, Wood says, is if your doctor doesn't allow you to ask questions. "This is concerning because your doctor might miss out on important information and result in them making a diagnosis and decisions about your treatment without having the full picture," she says. "It’s essential to follow your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right about your diagnosis/treatment or you don’t trust your doctor, you should get a second opinion."
You can try to work with them, but don't feel bad about finding someone new. Your health is too valuable to waste time with a doctor who can't be trusted, or who isn't
taking the time to help you in the best way possible.