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How to deal with a condescending doctor

Visiting the doctor is usually not a pleasant experience. The situation is only made worse when the doctor is condescending, confrontational or in a hurry.

One thing patients know is that a doctor’s tone and demeanor matter.

A recent article on HealthLine examines how a doctor’s words and actions affect patients.

The article detailed a study at Winnie Palmer Hospital’s NICU unit, which found that compassion training among doctors and medical staff improved patient experiences by 60 percent.

Ideally, doctors would be patient, compassionate, and willing to explain medical issues in a clear, easy-to-understand manner.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Patients who are not comfortable with their doctors can end up suffering physically or emotionally. They may not feel comfortable explaining all their symptoms. They may feel rushed into making important decisions that affect their health. And the whole experience may cause them anxiety.

What can patients do to improve their experience when dealing with a doctor who seems unconcerned, unempathetic or rushed?

  • Ask the doctor to sit down: A doctor who is standing during the appointment may seem in a hurry. This places pressure on the patient to quickly ask questions and rush through the appointment. If your doctor is standing, it is perfectly acceptable to ask him or her to sit down.
  • Report the behavior: Hospitals and clinics have a vested interest in ensuring that patients receive quality care. If you are unhappy with how you are being treated, report it by calling, emailing or writing a letter to the hospital or clinic. Most have a department that is tasked with addressing patient concerns.
  • Request a new doctor: If you are seeing the same doctor and your requests for more compassionate care are not being met, you should consider finding a new doctor.

Patients should feel empowered to take charge of their health. This includes finding a compassionate doctor who truly cares about their health.