The worst part of seeing a doctor should be that you’re sick.But for millions of patients dealing with inflated bills, off-colour remarks, and shady, invasive procedures, sitting around for five hours flipping through a parents magazine is the least of their problems.
If you feel your doctor’s care was less than sub-par, follow these steps to make sure your voice gets heard:
Let your doctor know. Some doctors might actually be open to your feedback, and depending on whether you want to salvage the relationship—say you trust his care, but find his bedside manner unsavory—this may be helpful to both of you going forward.
Try to keep it constructive and explain how the comments or behaviour made you feel. What can both of you do to improve the situation? If he refuses to listen, it may be time to switch doctors.
Put it in writing. Keep a running log of payments, doctor’s visits, procedures and comments. This will help to substantiate your arguments and provide solid evidence if your grievance has to go higher up the food chain. Also keep a close watch on the doctor’s staff—do they reveal private information or joke openly about your condition? Often how they behave reflects your doctor’s ethics.
Talk to another doctor in the same practice. Air your frustrations to a doctor you trust. She may provide helpful feedback, set you straight and help you decide whether you have legitimate grounds to file a complaint.
Contact your state medical society or licensing board. Visit the American Medical Association’s website to find yours. They’ll give you instructions on how to file a grievance in your state, then perhaps weigh in on whether or not you have a case. According to Sharon Tanenbaum in Real Simple, filing a formal complaint online or by mail sends it directly to the medical board, who then reviews it.
If all goes well, and your case is legit, you’ll land your doctor in hot water for treating you like such a jerk. Action taken by the board could range from slapping him with a jaw-dropping fine to revoking his licence to practice. Either way, your jerk of a doctor will surely learn his lesson: All patients deserve quality care.