Twenty signs you need a new general practitioner

Most of us stick with one general practitioner for years, probably without thinking much about what kind of health carer we really need.

We have regular check-ups and annual vaccination so that we don’t get the flu and a shot of whooping cough vaccine before a new grandchild arrives. We need new prescriptions for our chronic illnesses. Over eighties must present yearly for an assessment before their Driver’s License can be renewed.

Occasionally we fall and our injuries demand urgent attention.

The general practitioner notes our new aches and pains, diagnoses our condition or refers us for further consultation. He or she reassures us and allays our fears.

Most doctors do a good job, and some are fabulous at what they do. But some just seem to be too old, tired, bored or preoccupied for the job you pay them to do

Twenty signs you need a new general practitioner

You need to find someone else if they

  • Don’t greet you by your name, don’t appear to remember you or call you by another name
  • ‘Forget’ to wash their hands before and after touching you and so exposing you and others to infection
  • Ask about an ailment you didn’t know you had. (I once knew someone who had hypertension. He went to his doctor who asked about his diabetes!)
  • Do not listen attentively when you tell them your symptoms
  • Discount your pain as unimportant
  • Over medicate you even to the extent that you can’t think, sleep or remember things
  • Attempt to discredit you when you suggest a diagnosis. I wrote a blog about that. You can find it by clicking here.
  • Ask, ‘What do you expect at your age?’ Obviously, you expect a better doctor
  • Tell you, ‘Most people your age experience ….’ (strokes, memory loss – whatever worries you}
  • Don’t ask what matters to you
  • Act reluctant when you ask for a referral for a second opinion
  • Discount or discredit information about you from consultations with others
  • Have never asked if you live alone or with others
  • Do not know whether or not a person you live with can care for you if you are ill
  • Assume you have someone to look after you if you are ill or discharged from hospital
  • Laugh when you talk about your recent Google search for health information
  • Never suggest ways you can help prevent illness
  • Discount any sadness you might experience and instead try to medicalise it as depression
  • Overcharge you
  • Over-service you by ordering too many tests and unnecessart diagnostic procedures
  • Keep you waiting every appointment without explanation or apology
  • Use equipment that you recognise as from another era
  • Work in a messy environment that makes you wonder how long ago the damned building, office or desk had a good clean.

If you are not satisfied with the performance of your general practitioner, you can begin by discussing your issues with them or with the manager of the practice. You can also find another doctor better suited to your needs with no explanation necessary.

12 replies on “Twenty signs you need a new general practitioner”

  1. And so say all of us! Sage advice Maureen 🙂 I also like a doctor who doesn’t try to get you in and out of their office in record speed. If you have taken the time to go there it makes sense for them to ask at the end of the consult, ‘Now …is there anything else that might be troubling you?’ Sometimes we just need to be asked.

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I totally agree with you about not being rushed and also being encouraged to talk about what is really worrying us.

  2. Just remembered… there is sign in the waiting room which says something like – Your appointment is for one consultation, if you have further conditions wish to discuss please say at the time of making your appointment and extra time will be allocated. I remember once asking a locum about a second problem that had cropped up and was told to make another appointment.

    Otherwise I am more than happy with my GP’s group practice.

    1. Yes, I’ve heard about that happening, as well. Pretty unnerving if a person goes to a general practice and wants to discuss two or more problems. That would be especially hard if you’d gone with something minor, and decided on the spur of the moment to discuss a really serious problem that you’d been dreading talking about.

      As I said in the original post, most doctors and group practices do a really good job. But there are rogues!

  3. This is such a great list Maureen and although I’m familiar with the medical world it made me think about what’s important in a doctor all over again.
    I think there are even more subtle things that make a difference, too – perhaps personality traits of a doctor that may not suit. I recently changed from one doctor in a practice to another because my perfectly pleasant doctor never quite managed to make me feel that it was alright for me to be upset by my (at that time) distressing medical condition. Her manner wasn’t cold, it just wasn’t … warm enough for me? The doctor I see now is really kind and I never feel silly if I’m worried or upset.

    One point in defence of GPs and running late – while trying to listen attentively, find out about a patient’s social situation, not miss something serious, discuss their google research, check if there’s something else on their mind, check they’re not actually depressed, examine them carefully etc etc – it’s easy if being thorough to run late. I certainly really struggled to be a good GP AND run to time – I even dreamt about it (and still do, occasionally!). I always apologised of course, and tried to have ‘blocked out’ appointments so I could catch up, but it was a constant battle. Just another perspective on that pesky late GP 🙂

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post, Fiona. I didn’t know you were a medical doctor. I do understand about general practitioners and consultants running late, especially if they are competent and caring. It’s just that sometimes I’ve been kept waiting for over an hour in a general practice, with not a word of apology or explanation. That really annoyed me, and is one reason why I decided that I needed to think carefully about what I want in a GP.

      I have had some terrible medical attention. One memorable doctor over-medicated me so much that I could hardly talk or walk and ended up in hospital for two weeks while my heart condition was sorted out.

      I’ve also had wonderful, wonderful doctors, including one who, when I fronted with a torn gastronemesis muscle (the big muscle in one’s calf) she sat down on the floor in front of me so she could examine the offending muscle rather than asking me to get on the examination couch. So kind, thorough, and lovely about every aspect of her patients’ care.

      1. I agree Maureen, you deserve an apology when you’ve been kept waiting – it’s a matter of basic manners. And what a horrible experience you had with being over-medicated.

        I’m glad you’ve had some good experiences too, and hope you continue to encounter the best in medical care.

  4. All so, so relevant Maureen. Thank you for the reminder. I am happy to say my GP ticks all the boxes but I have recent experience of a specialist who would be lucky to meet any of those essentials.

    1. Yes, Lorraine, I think some doctors just don’t get what patients expect of them, no matter how specialist they become. Maybe we need to educate them, or walk out.

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