Breaking Up Mailbag

This week's show featured several conversations on how and why patients fire their doctors.  As usual, you had many things to say in reaction to our show.  Hit the 'Jump' below to read a selection of your emails.

"Just a quick email to say how much I enjoy your show.  I am a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Vancouver and find that your show not only applies to conventional medicine but also for we who practice alternative medicine.  I have just finished listening to your show about patient firings and hirings.  It is heartening to know that I am not alone in my practice woes! Thank you so much."  Dr. Jennifer Doan, Vancouver

"I enjoyed this episode but thought your guests missed some important issues.  The first is the quality of your office staff.  I think this was especially an issue in the story of the doctor whose patient fired her after being told to go directly to the ER.  I can easily imagine that message being conveyed by some inadequately trained, bored, harassed, or uninterested clerk who just conveyed the message brusquely.  Front office staff that are kind and helpful and can communicate effectively with patients is something that doctors really need to look at.  The second is the inability to get through to the reception as well as how long you have to wait in the office.  It seems to me that you need to hire more people to answer phones just for making appointments and you need to stop booking in so many patients if you're always behind.  Also, if you are running behind, would it kill the staff to tell people in the waiting room how far behind the doctor is?  Even better, for long delays, call patients and tell them that the doctor is running 1 hour behind.  We're all busy people too and would appreciate advance notice so we can reshuffle our schedules." From:  Margaret Young, Vancouver

"I have moved from one doctor to another just because my doctor got so busy, I thought I was doing the physician a favour by moving to a doctor with a lighter patient load.  If the doctor's running late, please tell me when I report to the receptionist.  I'm willing to wait, provided the wait is acknowledged.  Otherwise I feel as though I'm either being ignored or avoided." From:  Jan Grosvenor, Beaverton, Ontario

"I am always amazed when I hear the phrase "if you don't like your doctor find one who suits you" or "if you have problems with your specialist go to another one".   Here in New Brunswick, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who can't even get a doctor.  If you can finally get to see one you would never dare to complain.  If you need a specialist, you have to wait months and months to see one and there is no way possible to get a second opinion on any condition you have.  Where are these people living that they can say get a second or see another doctor?"  From:  Pat Gray, Fredericton, New Brunswick

"I just listened to your Breaking Up show. I wanted to say that it's not that easy to find doctors accepting new patients in Toronto.  Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet because if you don't, you are going to be out a doctor."  From:  Samantha Murray, Toronto

"I want to tell you about how my mother's doctor divorced her.  As a resident of a retirement residence in a new city, she was happy that there was a doctor associated with her new home.  At first, the convenience was much appreciated, but it started to be more problematic.  The doctor came in once a week for appointments.  My mother developed shingles and was given the immediate treatment in a timely fashion, but it did not work.  Two years later, she is still suffering from the pain, which is, as you now, considerable.  The doctor has told my mother she will probably have the pain for the rest of her life and there is nothing she can do about it.  From that point, the doctor kept her distance as much as possible.  The finale came when the doctor informed my mother that they did not see eye-to-eye and that she was no longer willing to be her doctor.  I cannot say that my mother was sad to see her go, but finding another doctor proved to be extremely difficult."  From:  Sandra Lorimer, Ottawa.

"Dr. Goldman's comment today that most patients "can't tell if they have Dr. Oz or a quack" betrays a deeply-embedded belief I have contended with repeatedly in the medical community that patients are generally uneducated and incapable of understanding the most basic medical information.  I happen to have a Master's level education, but most of the doctors I have dealt with have never taken the time to discover this. It seems I am a body without a brain to most of them.  Until this pervasive and wilful ignorance on the part of the medical profession gives way to mutual respect, patients will continue to have to fight a demoralizing battle for the care they need.  This kind of fight is the last thing we need when trying to cope with serious illness."  From:  Christine Muzzerall, Barrie, Ontario

"I normally enjoy your show and find it informative and rewarding.  However, your show of March 5th was the height of arrogance. The episode title should have been Blame the Patient.  You, and your guest MDs, state that a patient doesn't know the difference between good and bad care. What hubris!  Mr. Goldman, please have a little more respect for those of us without a medical degree.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know when you're being taken for a ride."  From:  Robert Busken, Toronto

"I was floored by how comfortably your doctors dismissed patients' abilities to evaluate their own doctor's care.  I know that many patients have an impoverished sense of their own health and health care, but to assume this ignorance to be universal, as in your discussion, is arrogant and disturbing.  As just one example, I worked in and studied health care information for twenty years.  When I see a doctor, do you think that I might have a sense of what is good health care?  That dismissal puts up a convenient wall between doctor and patient: the patient is stupid and has no creative responses to the problem at hand.  My fair doctors, accepting patients as potentially knowledgeable would take more time, for sure, but your misdiagnoses will diminish.  And validating your patients' intelligence just might improve the outcome.  I'm glad that none of you is my doctor."  From:  Ralph MacDonald, Ottawa

"I was disappointed in the tone and theme from the doctors you have interviewed. These comments are evasive and put the blame back onto the patient.  I have worked in the health field and worked with many physicians in various specialty areas, some great, some terrible.  I know the system is in a tough state.  But as long as doctors keep insisting that patients are always wrong and they are always right, then there will be no change. I am not talking diagnosis of disease but the way they work with patients. Some doctors are terrible at interacting with people and portray little respect to the patients."  From:  Name Witheld at contributor's request

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