Red Flags You Should Look For In A PCP

It's important to have a good relationship with your primary care physician. They are the first line of defense in detecting and preventing health problems. There are many good traits to look for in your doctor, like knowledge, experience, and trust. Your doctor should listen to your health concerns with an open mind and treat you with compassion and respect. If you aren't completely comfortable with your doctor, it may lead you to not be completely honest with them.

It is crucial that you are completely honest with your doctor regarding every health concern. Unfortunately, this often does not happen. A 2018 study published by Jama Network found that 80% of participants admitted that they hid some information from their healthcare provider at some point in their lives. The study leaders believed there were multiple reasons for this, but the main one was that patients admitted they didn't want to be judged by their doctors for unhealthy behaviors. While all relationships are two-sided, having a great doc is the first step in fostering an environment that allows you to feel safe. While you should be aware of the good qualities of your doctor (or potential doctor), you should also be aware of the negative ones. Here are some red flags to look for in a primary care physician. If you notice any of these, it's probably time to switch doctors.

Your doctor is always rushing you

If your doctor seems like they're always in a hurry, it may be because they are overbooked or understaffed. This can lead to rushed appointments and less time for questions or concerns. While doctors are busy and staffing issues are a real concern, they should always make time for you and your needs. According to Disability Dame, you don't need to completely hold it against your doctor if they seem rushed during your appointment, as this is common in our current healthcare system. According to Healthgrades, there are a few things you can try to have a better experience, like booking your appointments early and being prepared with questions.

However, you deserve the time and attention you need to stay healthy or address an issue. The next time you feel rushed at an appointment, explain to your doctor how you feel and see how they react. You can also discuss options to work with their schedule, like following up through email or online when they have more time. If your physician is apologetic and open to working with you, stick around. If they get defensive or don't take you seriously, you may want to look into other healthcare providers.

Your doctor doesn't listen to you

A good doctor will take the time to listen to your concerns and questions. If your doctor dismisses your concerns or interrupts you, it may be a sign that they aren't really listening. This can be a problem if you're not able to fully explain your symptoms or don't feel like your questions are being answered. It can even be dangerous for your health if an issue isn't taken seriously and gets worse over time.

According to US News, listening is one of the most important skills of a physician. "As physicians, we're a busy bunch," said Dr. Neel Anand, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles. "But our most important time is spent in a day is with our patients. If we don't allow them to give us a complete picture of their overall health, we can't help them effectively maximize it. It's best to go with the doctor who puts down the chart and actively listens to what's going on with you." If your doctor seems distracted or talks over you when you're trying to explain your concerns, think about switching docs.

Your doctor is always pushing medications

While there are some situations where medication is the best course of treatment, this shouldn't be the first thing your doctor recommends every time. Many holistic treatments and alternative medicine treatments have been shown to help various issues, and they are definitely worth exploring, especially if that is the route you would rather try first (via US News). If your doctor is always trying to push pills, it may be a sign that they're more interested in making a quick buck than actually helping you. In some cases, doctors may be overprescribing medication or prescribing dangerous drugs without fully understanding your health situation. This can lead to serious health problems down the road.

If you're concerned about the amount of medication your doctor is prescribing, talk to them about your concerns. They should be able to explain why they're recommending a certain drug and what the risks are. If you're not comfortable with their answer or they seem pushy, it may be time to find a new physician.

Your doctor is against a second opinion

If your doctor is adamant that you don't need a second opinion, it may be cause for concern. While a second opinion isn't always necessary, there are some situations where it's a good idea to get one. If you have a serious diagnosis or the treatment plan your doctor is recommending doesn't sit right with you, definitely get a second opinion. According to The Healthy, 40% of patients are initially misdiagnosed. A second opinion can give you more information about your health situation and help put your mind at ease.

Some doctors may be against second opinions because they're worried about losing patients or looking bad. However, a good doctor will want what's best for their patients and will understand if you want to get a second opinion. If your doctor tries to talk you out of it or gets angry when you mention it, that's a red flag. A good doctor will know that they don't have all the answers and will put your care above their ego.

You don't feel comfortable around your doctor

Not every patient will click with their doctor right away. However, if you've been seeing your doctor for a while and you still don't feel comfortable around them, it may be time to make a change. You're not going to vibe with everyone, and that's okay, but it's important to feel like you can talk to your doctor about anything, without feeling judged or misunderstood (via Detroit Free Press). If you don't feel like your concerns are being taken seriously or like you can be honest with your doctor, it will be hard to get the care you need.

If you're thinking about switching doctors, definitely schedule a consultation first. This will give you a chance to meet the doctor and see if they're a good fit for you. If you don't click, it's probably not worth switching to that practice. However, if you hit it off and feel like this could be a good fit, definitely give them a chance. Switching doctors can be a difficult decision, but it's important to do what's best for your health. If you're not happy with your current physician, don't be afraid to look for someone new.