How to Fix Doctor-Patient Relationships



September 10, 2020

A poor doctor-patient relationship can be detrimental to your care, but in order to fix this relationship, you first need to understand some of the barriers to effective communication in healthcare

How to Improve a Bad Doctor-Patient Relationship

Problem: Poor doctor-patient communication. 

If you are telling your doctor about your symptoms and they interrupt before you finish or do not seem like they are paying attention to what you have to say, you may not feel comfortable talking to them. Being comfortable with your doctor is important because as you progress in your treatment and see them more and more frequently, you want to be able to tell them about changes in your health and other things related to your life that may affect your treatment. 

Solution: Speak up. 

Let them know that you do not feel comfortable asking them questions. Ask them to look at you when you are speaking. Bringing up the fact that you are not feeling heard will give your doctor a chance to try again. Additionally, when you are discussing your symptoms, make sure to provide details.

Problem: Your doctor does not value your input. 

Before a decision is made about your treatment, your doctor should be discussing the pros and cons of each option with you. Is your doctor telling you what to do, instead of making you informed about your different options and working with you to decide which option is the best? 

Solution: Ask your doctor to explain. 

If your doctor is not being receptive to your input, ask them to explain the benefits and risks of their recommendation and compare that with your preferences. You can also ask to have more time to think about their suggestions. This way, you can go home, think about what they said and do some research on your own. Bring a family member with you so that they can help ask questions to your doctor and support you while asking about other treatment options. 

Problem: Doctor’s office is disorganized. 

Do you often get frustrated about not receiving return calls in a timely manner or find it difficult to get drug refills or test results? This can harm your care. If your doctor is always running behind, it means less time for you two to discuss your health during your appointment. A disorganized office wastes your time, results in poor care, and can also increase the chance of medical errors.

Solution: Tell your doctor. 

Your doctor may not be aware of everything going on in the front office. Inform them of the lack of organization so you know that the issue has been brought to their attention. Whenever you walk into the office, ask the front desk for an estimated wait time so you know what to expect. 

Problem: Your doctor doesn’t respect you. 

Being scolded about your weight or being judged negatively because of your age can negative effect on your care. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon as there is research that supports that some doctors judge patients negatively based on their age, gender, ethnic background, and more. 

Solution: Keep your goals in mind and let your doctor know

In the end both you and your doctor have the same end goal but what they may not realize is how their behaviour or delivery affects you and how your health. Let them know that you are feeling criticized or dismissed. Be honest if you are struggling with any problems, such as smoking or weight gain, and let them know you are seeking their support. 

Problem: Doctor is withholding information about your health

Do you feel like your doctor isn’t discussing everything regarding your treatment and care? This could be costs and potential side effects. Or how about feeling that they aren’t sharing bad news with you?

Solution: Ask your doctor for more information. 

If you feel your doctor is withholding information, ask for more explanations and let your doctor know that you want to learn more about side effects, recovery periods, and other specifics.

As with any problem, the most common and effective solution is to speak up for yourself. If you do not address these issues by letting your doctor know how you feel, then you will only feel worse. But if you bring them up, you give your doctor the chance to acknowledge your problems and think about how they present information to you. 

If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your doctor in this way, you can always bring a friend or family member with you or you may even consider hiring a Healthcare Advisor