What to do When You Disagree with Your Doctor



September 10, 2020

Not everyone is perfect, and this includes your doctor. Despite a doctor’s extensive knowledge and experience, you may still feel uncertain about something they’re saying to you.

What should you do in the case that you do not agree or feel confident with your doctor’s recommendation? 

When patients disagree with their doctor, it is commonly because they have researched their condition on Google beforehand and walk into their appointments with conclusions as opposed to symptoms.

Doing your own research before an appointment can be both helpful and harmful. If you have problems with your heart but your doctor is not a cardiologist, the information you have researched may be helpful. But other times, patients can take information out of context and can request meaningless tests. 

There are ways to work through a disagreement between you and your doctor. 

How to Say ‘no’ to a Doctor in a Respectful Manner

  1. Be firm but polite. Recognize them for their hard work and be respectful of their knowledge. Do not bring them down, but instead voice your concerns in a thoughtful manner. 

  2. Express your concerns and ask questions. You can ask them questions about various treatment options and then they will be able to explain the benefits of a certain treatment over another. Have them give you an in depth explanation of why they believe one treatment will be more beneficial over the other. 

  3. Bring up your concerns and talk about why you disagree. You can talk about your priorities and experiences or you can also show them the research that you've found online from credible sources. You can also share experiences of family members if you are addressing something genetic.

  4. Ask your doctor to explain their reasoning or to provide more information. After you listen to all they have to say, you can write notes and refer back to them once you’re back home. This will give you time to consider what they have presented. Some doctors will urge you to start treatment or schedule surgery right away, but you should only do so if you are comfortable and understand the reasoning behind a specific procedure. 

When to get a new doctor

If you are still not happy with your doctor after you bring up your concerns, consider finding a new doctor who will take the time to listen to you and your concerns. If your doctor only offers one treatment option, does not take time to answer your questions, provides very limited information on your options, or is against you seeking a second opinion, then it is a sign to get a new doctor. Other signs that push people to find new doctors include poor listening, lack of coordination or follow-up, difficulty in getting an appointment or timely reply, and rudeness or disrespect. 

At the end of your appointments, you ask for a visit summary, test results, and copies of your medical records so that you can have everything in your possession in the event to need to shop for a new doctor.