“He could have spoken in a nicer tone,” you might mumble to your mother. But what do you do when the experience with a doctor takes a sharper turn? What if he doesn’t believe your symptoms or validate your experience? What if he doesn’t take into account your pain before beginning an in-office procedure?
The shock, fear, and disappointment of having a bad doctor experience can be daunting. What can you do? Should you do anything at all? The answer to that, I believe, is always “yes.” You may have heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Well, you’re still a paying customer in the doctor’s office, and you know your body and your needs better than anyone else. So, if you are unsatisfied with your experience, you should speak up!
Most doctors send out surveys you can anonymously fill out after your appointment asking you to rate your visit and the staff. These surveys also have space at the end of every section where you can leave comments, and that’s a great place to start. But if you feel as if you need more support, here’s a list of things you can do after your experience.
- Never go there again. It seems obvious, but some providers could try to send you back to the same doctor with whom you’ve had a bad experience. It’s good to keep a running list of doctors you’ve seen and how you feel about them. Write it down. Seriously, you can’t remember everything about everyone.
- Tell anyone who will listen. But most importantly, be sure to tell the doctor who referred you to the physician that you didn’t care for. No one is a mind reader, and they won’t know until you tell them.
- You might be surprised to find out that you can complain about your experience to your insurance company. Medicare recommends contacting your Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC–QIO). Find yours here.
- You can speak up about things like improper care or unsafe hospital conditions by contacting your state’s department of health services. Medicare can help you find that information as well. So, never feel as if your experience is too small or doesn’t matter, because it does. To speak about your doctor specifically, contact your state medical board. Medicare can help get you there.
- Talk to your doctor. At the time, you might be terrified, and often it is hard to speak up. But the doctor may not know how cold he’s being. He may need to be reminded that in order for a doctor–patient relationship to work, communication needs to be a two–way street. You both get to speak, and you both get to listen. I know how uncomfortable this is. If you don’t have the strength in person, you can always write a letter.
It’s important to speak up about mistreatment while you’re receiving services. You will help not only yourself, but your strength could help the patient entering the room after you. You are valid and you have the right to say when something or someone isn’t working for you.
It’s easy to feel that there’s a power struggle between doctor and patient, but there is not. You are the reason the doctor has his job. You are the reason he practices medicine. And you deserve to be treated with respect, to be validated, and to be heard. Please, never feel like there is nothing you can do. And remember, no one is a better advocate for you than you. So raise your voice!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.