7 Signs of a Bad Doctor (And How to Find a Good One)

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Inside: Feeling like something’s off between you and your doctor? Here are 7 signs of a bad doctor and tips for how to find a good one. 


Are you leaving your doctor appointments feeling unsatisfied? Do you feel like there’s a disconnect between you and your doctor? 

Then, it may be time to find a new one. 

According to Dr. Kristin Dean, a Family Practice Physician, “Patients with a strong doctor-patient relationship often benefit from better disease control and improvements in overall health.” Basically, a good relationship with your doctor is essential to good health.

If you’ve asked all the right questions, but still don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere it’s OK to explore new options. 

But how do you know if the problem is your doctor?

7 Signs of a Bad Doctor

1. The office staff is unprofessional.

The office staff is unprofessional.

I moved my son to a different pediatrician for this reason. During COVID-19,  I had a situation where my husband couldn’t take Asher to his doctor’s appointment, so our nanny and I went instead.  I explained to the office staff about my disability and why two people needed to attend the appointment (which was against their policy of only letting one person attend the appointment)

Rather than asking me more questions, the office staff told the doctor that I had broken their rules without explaining that I was disabled. When he questioned me about it in front of the entire office lobby, the nanny calmly explained why we needed two people there. He apologized profusely and said that no one had disclosed my disability to him.

I could have probably let this slide, but then the nurse who was giving Asher his shots that day dropped the syringe on the floor, picked it up and continued to use it. 

I had already made up my mind that we wouldn’t be coming back and the fact that none of the office staff apologized or said goodbye when we left the office that day, let me know that I was making the right decision. 

2. Your doctor isn’t listening to you.

isn’t listening

A recent study by the Ochsner Journal found that 75% of doctors believed that they communicated satisfactorily with those in their care, while only 21% of the people treated by those doctors said that their talks went well.

So, where is the miscommunication?

It’s important that your doctor asks you open-ended questions rather than relying on a list of basic yes or no questions.  If you feel like you’re not being heard after explaining your symptoms, let them know by saying something like: “I’m worried that we aren’t communicating well. Here’s why I feel that way.” 

It’s also helpful to bring a friend or loved one to the appointment with you. Sometimes, our anxiety takes over and it’s hard to communicate effectively when this happens. Having someone else in the room who can act as another set of ears can help you better assess the visit. 

3. You can’t get in touch with them.

Signs of a Bad Doctor

Remember earlier when I was talking about moving my son to a different pediatrician? I ended up finding a different doctor.  

During that odd time where Asher was between two different doctors, he came down with his first cold.  We were unsure if he could have contracted COVID-19. Since he was technically considered a patient at both offices, I called both doctors and asked them what we should do. 

We were given an emergency appointment scheduled within two hours of calling the new pediatrician’s office. 

How long did we wait to hear back from his former doctor?

Asher was already on his way home from getting a COVID-19 test at the new office before the old office had even called to tell us to “just take Tylenol.”

If it’s hard to get in touch with the office or you feel like you’ve been left stranded, it may be time to find a different doctor.

4. You don’t know what’s going on.

You don’t know what’s going on.

If you feel like you’re left in the dark when it comes to your health, you may have a bad doctor. Your doctor should thoroughly explain why he believes you have a certain diagnosis or a differential diagnosis. They should also be receptive to answering any and all follow-up questions related to your health.

In addition, you should know the reason why you’ve been offered a particular therapy. For instance, your doctor should go over the reasons why he’s recommended surgery or certain medication. You should also know the potential side effects and complications. You should never just blindly trust a doctor’s opinion without fully understanding the details behind their recommendations.

5. Your doctor is rude or condescending.

Your doctor is rude or condescending

One time my doctor asked me what made the muscle twitching worse in my body, and I told him that I can feel a connection between stress and the switching. He scoffed at me like there’s no way that could occur. Honestly, I’m still not sure what answer he was looking for.

If your doctor is rude or condescending to you then it’s time to get rid of them. Confidence is a good trait to have, but, when it turns to arrogance, it can lead to a difficult relationship where you don’t feel comfortable speaking openly with your doctor. 

“Wise patients understand that there is no room for arrogance, narcissism or condescension from egotistical medical professionals. Their lack of respect for our needs and their difficult personalities will inhibit the partnership we need to develop, and we won’t get the care we need from them.”

The relationship between physician humility, physician-patient communication, and patient health.

6. Your doctor seems rushed.

Don’t take it as an insult if your doctor seems rushed. One of the major downsides of our healthcare system is that doctors are required to see many people a day, leaving them with a small amount of attention guaranteed to each patient. 

If your doctor seems rushed, you could start off the conversation by saying something like, “I know you’re in a hurry today, but I have a couple of questions I need to get answered while I have your attention.” 

You can also leave questions with your doctor and they can follow up with answers. If they’re not open to this or seem unappreciative that you’re trying to move the appointment along easier for them, then you may have a bad doctor. 

7. They don’t offer helpful alternatives.

It’s okay if you’ve been searching for a diagnosis and your doctor cannot definitively give you one, but this doesn’t mean that the doctor should give up.  They should always offer you alternative suggestions such as potential therapies and/or lifestyle changes. A good doctor will even suggest getting a second opinion.

7 Signs of a Bad Doctor

How to find a good doctor? 

  1. Check online for reviews of what other patients have said about doctors.
  2. Factor in technology, like electronic health records and patient portals.
  3. Scrutinize the staff and office facility.
  4. Watch out for red flags like a substantial amount of malpractice claims.

Final Thoughts on 7 Signs of a Bad Doctor (And How to Find a Good One)

If you think your doctor shares some of the 7 signs of a bad doctor, don’t let that stand in the way of finding a new one. You should feel comfortable enough to speak with your doctor openly about your health. In turn, they should offer helpful information and alternatives.

Don’t let a bad relationship with your doctor stand in the way of getting the help that you.

Have you ever had a doctor that you thought was bad? Tell me in the comments below!

What’s Next?

If you’re exhausted with healthcare providers and still struggling to find a doctor who listens, I get it.

I’ve been there. Actually, I’m still there…

Honestly, though, I think the most infuriating part of it all is when strangers who have never had health struggles make accusations about you like you’re “crazy” and “have no idea what you’re talking about.”

If this has happened to you, please know that this is a safe space. You will not be judged for your frustration.

For further reading, check out How To Advocate For Yourself At The Doctor (& Get Answers You Need) where I give real-life tips for what I’ve used inside the doctor’s office.

If you’re struggling to find peace with your health symptoms or chronic illness, visit How to Be Mindful When You’re Suffering from Chronic Illness (In 2021)

Once you read those, here are a few more resources you might enjoy:

In addition, here are some companies that can make your health struggles easier, like this medication tracking app or this clinical trial company.

Allie Schmidt
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Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.

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14 thoughts on “7 Signs of a Bad Doctor (And How to Find a Good One)”

  1. Love this article! I don’t think I’ve had a good doctor in the last twenty years. Here are some examples all from different people pretending to be doctors:

    After the doctor botched the blood draw, he called me and told me I had to drop everything and rush to the nearest (2 hours away) cancer clinic because I was dying.

    After the doctor told me I was pregnant (over the phone) and I told him that was impossible because I’d never had sex (I was a teenager), he told me I was lying.

    When I started asking the doctor questions, he told me I wasn’t allowed to talk unless he asked me a direct question.

    When I told the doctor a lot of supplements and drugs make me ill, she said I should learn how to read labels.

    When the doctor was reading over my intake form, she made an incorrect assumption aloud so I gently corrected her. She started screaming at me, “WHERE IS THAT WRITTEN? THAT’S NOT WRITTEN ANYWHERE! I DON’T SEE THAT ANYWHERE ON THIS FORM!” (This was the doctor when she walked in the room the medical assistant would go silent after being very friendly, freeze and get so nervous she’d start making mistakes while she was taking my blood pressure. That was a hint.)

    Another doctor when I told him supplements and drugs make me ill, he said I am required to do exactly what he wants or I can just go somewhere else because selling supplements is how he makes up for insurance companies not paying him what he’s worth.

    “If it’s good enough for all my other patients, it’s good enough for you.” As if I’m just another cow in the herd. We are all the same.

    “I don’t know” (repeatedly).

    When I explain the misery I was in, the medical assistant started laughing and told me that was ridiculous. She laughed all the out of the room.

    When I explain the misery I was in, another male medical assistant told me he just read an article on female patients and how a lot of their concerns are psychological so it must be all in my head. The doctor prescribed me headache medicine…never mind the bouts of nausea and passing out.

    Now that we often have access to our medical files and the doctor’s clinical notes, it is SHOCKING to me how much they LIE. I think most of it is to cover their a$$es and make themselves look good in light of their incompetence.

    I’ve never had a doctor listen to me. I could talk and explain until I’m blue in the face and they just follow their favorite protocol like a robot regardless of what I’ve said.

    I could go on forever. I’ve become very cynical toward the lousy health care system we have.

    Reply
    • I have constant nausea and just push through the day. Blood work looks fine. I’ve been told it’s all in my head and to just deal deal with it. I’m losing weight and am afraid I am dying. Just praying that God is at my side.

      Reply
  2. One of my bad doctor experiences is the last family doctor I went to. I asked very direct questions, such as Can you explain the cardiac test results? The cardiologist didn’t. Her response waa there was nothing there to be concerned about. I said, I an concerned and have questions and she said No doctor is going to be concerned. That was it. She would not budge. I brought up an ongoing problem with congestion and mucus that has been getting worse. She asked if I wanted to see an allergy doctor l. I said no, I had already done that, had allergy shots for two years and the problem actually got worse. She has nothing else. She then asked if I had any other questions and I said why when you have refused to answer

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  3. I am stuck in an old worker’s compensation injury dating back to 2003. I was treated by an orthopedic surgeon until 2016 where I had multiple surgeries on both knees and PT. I was told I was to young for knee replacement then in my 40’s. That doctor that I had a relationship with from 2003-2016 retired and my lawyer recommended an orthopedic that would accept my old case and this doctor accepted workers compensation. For the past 5 years with this doctor have been the worst experience to date. I had right knee replacement that I still suffer with continued pain. The waiting room time on average is 2 hours minimum and then he sees you for less than 5 minutes and doesn’t even look at me when I ask questions. Just says want a cortisone shot in the left leg? And continue PT. I have been declared disabled by social security and this doctor still indicates my disability is temporary so I only get a temporary handicapped parking permit. When I had the surgery it was done in a hospital 100 miles from where I live as doctors insistence. I was sent to a rehab nursing home and left there with no visit from my doctor who performed the surgery under horrible care. I am a widow and live alone so there wasn’t anyone to speak up for me during this time. I don’t know what to do anymore. I need another doctor who is not overburdened with an enormous amount of patients for his workers compensation interest only. No one will take me as a patient because the case is old. I am just getting pushed aside in the courts with no benefits or appropriate treatment.

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  4. I was hurt on my job in 2005 and had 3 surgery’s on my spine 2 failed surgery and the 3 rd one was to go in and do a clean up around my spine and scar tissue but it was bad the scar tissue was so bad that nerve roots were growing off nerve roots and scar tissue that was over grown the doctor said they never seen anything like it and they don’t want any over doctor to do surgery. I got a second doctor to take a look at it but the doctor that did the surgery told him to leave it alone because it’s a mess and he would only make things worse for me. The doctor who did the surgery was a very high level doctor chef surgeon and I started going to pain management for chronic pain and everything they could do to help with pain and nothing helps so I have been left with pain medicine for pain and the pain medicine does help me live a half normal life but time goes on and my condition is getting worse I now have spinal stenosis arthritis osteoporosis RA arthritis slip dic arthritis Degenerative dic deices and my dic are starting to slip a my osteoporosis has been hard on my left hip pelvis leg arm they said if I fall it could break them so fall too your right side. And I need a knee replacement surgery on my right knee and my left knee is just starting to hurt like the right knee because it bone too bone on the right side so I was on OxyContin 40 mg 3 times a day and oxycodone15 mg 4 times a day and soma350 mg 2 a day but when the CDC started on the doctors about pain medicine they reduced my pain medicine to morphine 30 msg 3 times a day and OxyCodone15 mg 4 times a day so I asked him to increase my break though medicine so he give 5 extra pills and told me to take 2 15 mags and see if they help. Okay I did and it help me my pain was better and I told him that and asked him if he was going to increase my pain medicine and he said no I not doing that because people are selling them on the streets. I was like I don’t want to sell my pain medicine. I want to have them for my pain. So he took the 5 extra back and left me on what I started with. I don’t understand why he can’t increase my break though medicine when he knows it was helping me and my condition is getting worse and my pain is worse and I tell him that I don’t have a life anymore because I am in pain and I can’t do anything anymore because the pain gets worse when I try to do anything I don’t know what else to do. I have tried to work with him and I even took a pain test to prove my pain to him but he never wants to increase my pain medicine I have been on my medicine for years and I think it’s time to increase it my pain has increased and sometimes it hurts me so much I just cry and I don’t sell my pain medicine and I take it just like they tell me I have been there for years

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  5. June 18, 2021 I was walking home from the gym, when I started getting lightheaded, blurry vision, feeling faint, stopped called a Uber who brought me home. I arrived home and starting feeling the same way again. I had my daughter call 911, EMT arrived did their evaluations, stated in their opinion that I was just extremely dehydrated, all my vitals were normal, EKG was normal. They than asked if I wanted to go to the hospital as a precaution, but it was my choice. I decided to go to the hospital just to get checked out, just to make sure I was ok, I was still a little in coherent, out of it. Upon my arrival they immediately administer me a TPA IV even though I was not having any symptoms of a stroke. Every since, I have not been feeling well, (ie chest pain/pressure/tightness, lightheadedness, fainting spells, escalated bpm upon standing ONLY, when I’m sitting or laying down bpm is normal, migraines, blurry/double vision, ear ringing/pressure) I have had 4 admissions to the hospital over 12 emergency visits, 11 negative COVID tests, seen numerous specialists (neurologist, audiologists, cardiologist, PCP) in the El Paso, Tx area, 1 heart catheter ablation surgery and I still do not feel well. I’m not understanding how at 8:00a on that day I was a healthy, physically active 45 year old, with no prior health problems, no diabetes, no high blood pressure, no heart problems, nothing and a few hours later after a trip to the hospital, and administration of a stroke medication, I have felt sick ever since. I really believe a misdiagnosis was done. So, I was referred by an emergency room doctor at my ER visit to Las Palmas Hospital in El Paso, Tx to see cardiologist Dr Dim Uzodinma at 2200 George Dieter Drive in El Paso, Tx. After receiving referral approval from the Veteran Affairs Hospital Community Care Dept. an appt was scheduled July 19, 2021. Upon my visit with Dr. Dim he immediately scheduled for admission that day on July 19, 2021 where a heart catheter ablation procedure was done later on in the week on July 22, 2021. No other tests were done prior (no stress tests, no heart monitor, to tilt table tests) no other options were offered prior either (no heart monitoring, no medications, no cardio version procedure) NOTHING. He just stated, “Let’s do this heart catheter ablation so you can feel better.” Let’s just say after the procedure I have felt worse, and worse and worse and worse. I was prescribed Atenolol 25mg which is a high blood medication medicine, I never in my life had high blood pressure but ok! I have been to his office every week since the surgery complaining about how bad I feel, EVERY WEEK! I have complained about upper chest area being swollen ( between my chest, and right side area of my chest above my collar bone), but that was ignored. EVERY complaint of discomfort I have been feeling he just blew me off and there has been no resolution. I feel I was not given a proper diagnosis in detail, we are not dealing with a common cold we are dealing with a vital organ. On my last visit I waited from 3:45pm to 10:00 pm and when he came in the office he said, “Are we going to put this pacemaker in or what.” When I said no, he just wrote a prescription for some medication without no examination I was prescribed Cardizem 40mg another high blood pressure medication, no explanation on how to take the medication or dos and dont’s with taking this medication. Afterwards I left out of the office, as I stated that was my last visit. I am not going to let someone put something in me, cut me, without an explanation, a diagnosis, especially after a prior failed procedure and I want to make sure every other option is exhausted. He doesn’t listens to the patients symptoms fully to understand which can lead to misdiagnosis. LISTEN!!!!!! The wait times for patients with heart conditions in his office is insanely ridiculous 3-8 hours, the unsatisfactory care for the patients, thee lack of communication about medical problems, diagnosis and poor treatment plans has lead me to write this review. I’m even questioning if I needed the ablation or if it was something else because I’m still sick and actually feel sicker since the procedure. I’m literally confined to bed. Other patients experience may have been different, but my experience with this person has been very bad. I would NOT recommend him to my worst enemy or even a dog. When you work with people in dealing with their health, there should be a certain level of care and concern. What if this was your wife or daughter or mother or father, would you want them to be treated with a certain level of care?

    Reply
  6. I’m so fed up with my doctors i have terrible abdominal pain ,nausea ,upper back pain and I’ve got no energy .Spoke to one doctor 7 weeks ago he prescribed omeprazole over the phone told me to get back to him in a couple of weeks if things hadn’t improved, still trying to get a follow-up with him they don’t answer the phone if you go into the surgery they tell you to do an online consultation which is a joke ,I’m desperate for some answers about this and also an ECG I had done just before covid hit ,they said nothing urgent but I already have to stents fitted ,sorry for the rant but im only 49 and I feel like my life is not worth living at the minute I’m physically drained !!!!

    Reply
  7. My last doctor prescribed a laba to be used without a corticosteroid. That is dangerous for a person with asthma. I didn’t realize it didn’t also contain a steroid until I looked it up. I know what I have because I have had asthma since I was a young child. I knew the medication wasn’t working. He finally prescribed a different medication. But, he was not good at making sure I had refills that were needed. He was also pushy about tests that I didn’t need or want, yet would not order a bone density which I thought was needed due to my age and medication history. Then covid 19 hit. I need to find a doctor I trust and who will be respectful and listen.

    Reply
    • Hi CJ,

      Your doctor should never prescribe you something that could counteract a current health condition. Your doctor does not sound like they have your best interest at heart, especially if they’re not refilling your prescriptions on time. You may have better peace of mind by taking the plunge and seeking a new doctor!

      Reply
    • Regardless of industry such as retail, medical, or industrial an influx of new personnel is occurring. Now is a difficult time to find good experienced people. Professional occupations or otherwise. I have encountered more people in positions since Covid who shouldn’t have ever been placed in their job due to a lack of qualifications.

      Reply
  8. I have been through dr after dr. I am a very nice lady. They start out so sweet sometimes. They are indifferent, rude, condescending , sarcastic, uncaring and treat me like a number. I am an individual human being. They seldom compliment me on my achievements and Health strides. They are quick to criticize. There is no need to keep mentioning my age or what stage of my womanhood I am at in my lifetime. I am the same person. The technicians are as rude as they can be. They yell all my stats out loud. They seldom compliment my accomplishments Health or otherwise. Now that’s not to say that there is an ocassional dr or tech that doesn’t mention my age or womanhood. They talk very nicely and make me feel like a worthy person.

    Reply
    • Hi Joanna,

      I’m sorry to hear that your doctors and technicians have been rude and failed to recognize your health achievements. They definitely shouldn’t be yelling your health reports loudly in the presence of where others could hear! That would make me feel uncomfortable, too! Are you able to switch doctors? It might also be helpful to ask the staff if there’s something that you’re doing to irritate them. (Not because you actually are doing something irritating, but this question would let them know that you feel their animosity without them feeling attacked.) Sometimes, a frank conversation can do the trick!

      Reply

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