What should a patient expect from a doctor? According to the Hippocratic Oath – “First, do no harm.” I am sure the meaning of “harm” is subject to interpretation. What one person might consider “harm,” another may consider merely unprofessional conduct.

For instance, if a doctor has a cold personality or their staff is hostile and unfriendly, you may not like it, but you are not being medically harmed. But if they don’t call in your prescription and ignore your requests, keep you waiting a very long time in the waiting room or exam room or make you wait months for a lab result –you are being harmed. One of the worst examples of being harmed is when you are given false information.

Here are some examples of how this recently happened to me:

1. Prior to my colonoscopy, I needed to know what diabetes medications I should take since I would be fasting. My endocrinologist told me to take one of my medications, but not the others. That sounded like harmful advice because that medication is always taken with food, and I wasn’t supposed to eat during the pre-colonoscopy prep period My research confirmed that this medicine should not be taken before having a colonoscopy.

2. That same doctor told me that “stress does not raise blood sugar.” It’s common knowledge that it often raises it and in my case — dramatically. This could be construed as “gaslighting.” This occurs when a doctor downplays or blows off symptoms you know you’re feeling and instead tries to convince you they’re caused by something else —or even that you’re imagining them.

3. She also said that drinking wine raises blood sugar, but that’s not true if it’s dry wine, such as Chardonnay or Merlot, which is what I drink.

4. During one appointment, when my husband accompanied me, I was stunned (understatement) when she said I should “look to him for carbohydrate advice” since he was on a ketogenic diet.

5. I usually don’t read a doctor’s summary of my visit or their notes, but recently I did and discovered many errors. I sent the doctor the corrections and asked her to revise her summary and notes.

6. After reading the visit summary of another doctor, I saw that he wrote, “left BP log on the counter.” Assuming “BP” means “blood pressure,” I wondered what he meant by that as I have never kept a blood pressure log. It gives the reader the impression that I am careless and forgetful. I asked him to correct his records.

In 2015, after I was in a serious car accident, the hospital said their tests discovered I had thyroid nodules. During one of my two thyroid biopsies, the doctor said he believed they were the result of the car accident. My research found an article from the National Health Institute confirming that some thyroid nodules were proven to be caused by car seat belts during an accident. When I tried to show my thyroid doctor the article, he summarily shooed me away and wouldn’t even consider the idea of it. My endocrinologist also didn’t believe that to be true. It can be very harmful to the patient when a doctor is closed-minded and doesn’t think outside the box.

Another doctor prescribed a medication for me that had an active Food and Drug Administration warning. When I refused to take it, he became incensed. During my research of him, I discovered he was a speaker for the drug company that manufactured this drug. This is a blatant example of a doctor being harmful to his patient for his own benefit.

During a visit to a new podiatrist for a diabetes checkup, I asked him to clip my toenails to which he replied, “Get a pedicure.” This can be extremely harmful to a diabetic because they need the skill and hygienic environment of a podiatrist.

In the last thirty years, I’ve gone to ten primary care physicians and seven endocrinologists. When I’m satisfied with a doctor, I don’t leave. I went to my dentist for thirty years until he died, and I’ve been seeing my ophthalmologist for over twenty years, with no plans to leave.

It may seem as though I picked my doctors’ names out of a hat, but I do several hours of research to try to find the best doctor for me. My criteria while searching are location (within 15 minutes from my house), education, years in practice and reviews. After an exhaustive search, I choose the doctor that most closely fits my criteria, hope for the best and then make that phone call.

But that phone call may not be the end of finding a new doctor because some medical offices have a policy that they won’t permit you to become a patient to a doctor in the same practice as one you have previously seen. Another problem is that even though a medical website says a doctor will accept new patients, they often do not – or if they do, you may need to wait several months for an appointment which could be harmful to your health. If you can’t wait several months, then you are back to square one.

French author Aude Mermilliod stated, “A healer is someone whose hand the patient wants to hold.” I wonder how many people have had a doctor whose hand they want to hold or even one that follows the Hippocratic oath, “First, do no harm.” I’m still looking.

Staying On Top Of Whether Your Doctor is Helping or Harming You was last modified: by

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