We asked the question “What Do Doctors Do to Annoy You“?

We were overwhelmed by the response. Dozens of visitors to the Web site offered some very frank opinions.
Now it’s the doctors’ turn to express their point of view about patients in an equally candid forum. One patient offered the following response. We welcome health care providers to provide their own comments to the question in the headline:

“This kick-the-doctor is getting a bit old and turning into a real pity party. Some of these complaints should have been addressed on the spot, such as wrong charts, assuming something about the patient, too much information too fast, reading from a script.

“What about patients who:

* Don’t know what meds they are taking or why. No wonder patients are asked to bring in the bottles to the office. My doctor gets a list that I keep up to date. (HINT: Keep it on Google Docs and you can access it anywhere you have internet access.)
* Don’t do their own research on their health problems. All too many either don’t question the doctor or, even worse, ignore what the doctor tells them.
* Quit taking antibiotics when symptoms go away even though they should take the whole prescription.
* Ask for antibiotics when they have a virus with no sign of a bacterial infection.
* Don’t take notes or come with a list of questions.
* Show up late for an appointment.
* Don’t ask for clarification when they don’t understand what was said.
* Don’t realize that doctors have their own frustrations about things they cannot control, such as a higher patient load just to stay even financially. Doctors (especially GPs) have a staff that expects a paycheck regularly, so a doctor is also a small business man and all the stresses of that as well as being a doctor.

“About a year ago NPR (I think This American Life) had a 4-part series on medicine and what I got from it is that we are all part of the problem of spiraling medical costs. Patients demand all the latest tests, when maybe they don’t need them all; doctors run defensive tests in fear of getting sued; insurance companies get dinged for being hard-hearted when they are trying to control costs and make a profit; and bureaucrats (in medical offices, insurance companies, and government) try to invent rules to cover everything when common sense and clear thinking would help more.

“Pogo in the comic strip said it so well so long ago. ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’ The enemy in this case is spiraling health costs.


We welcome comments from health care providers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and anyone else who cares for patients.

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  1. TS

    “….doctor refused to prescribe blood pressure medicine until the patient quit smoking?” [Paraphrased.]
    Good heavens! What arrogance! Quitting smoking isn’t easy. You seem to approve of this doctor’s behavior, which could have hastened this person’s death, by refusing to prescribe needed medicine. The ethics of that are truly chilling.
    If that happened to anyone in my family, I would be filing a complaint against that doctor. And that’s another issue.
    I’m shocked that you, as a pharmacy student, have no problem with the doctor’s attitude.
    However, being a skeptic, I find your story a little hard to believe. Did a doctor REALLY do that? I mean, come on, it seems a little over the top.

  2. MaryV

    Absolutely!! Advertising of drugs, viagra, etc. should be banned!!!!!

  3. N R M

    I have been to doctors that:
    1. Get angry when I have ideas on what is wrong with me. And I was right after a test.
    2. Don’t want to see a list of questions. They don’t have time. They want to hear ONE complaint only.
    3. Get angry when I don’t want antibiotics ( I have a reaction to many).

  4. mxp5769

    I have my own doctor who is compassionate, knowledgeable, encourages & patiently answers all my questions & is STILL a human being. I would encourage anyone who wants this type of relationship with their doctor to keep looking until they find a good one – they ARE out there!
    Now, on to my mother’s doctor. I make & keep doctor appts for my mother who has dementia. I do love her doctor who has the same qualities as mine but I HATE HIS PRACTICE!! The office staff borders on incompetence at times & its very frustrating to deal with anyone in the office. WITHOUT FAIL, we wait in the main waiting room AT LEAST 60 minutes with an appointment, sometimes more. Then we wait another 20 minutes or so in the exam room for the doctor to appear. Several months ago, I brought this up to the doctor & asked why I could set my watch by the fact that I must wait a minimum of 1 hour to be escorted to the back, only to wait even longer? He apologized & said that he had an emergency that morning. I explained that occasional problems I can understand – it happens. I was asking why this happens EVERY time & wanted to make sure he was aware of it.
    Since then, it has gotten considerably better in this respect only. We had an office visit in November & were told to schedule again in January. When I tried to make an appt, the bonehead behind the desk told me ‘oh, we don’t even have November finished yet’. REALLY? every other medical professional I have EVER dealt with has the ability to schedule appointments for the next 3 -6 months out. They all have computers there & I’m pretty sure the hours aren’t going to change for the practice – WHAT’S THE PROBLEM????
    When I was trying to call to schedule that November appt, I called shortly (5 or 10 minutes) after the office opened, knowing it would be busy & that I would have to wait for a bit. The call went straight to hold & after 7 minutes I hung up & called right back. Someone picked up right away. What’s up with THAT? Assuming I had not called back right away, who knows how long I would have been on hold? In spite of all this, it would still not be as bad if the people behind the glass reception window would smile & acknowledge they see me, instead of looking right at me, turning & walking away & then coming back when they get around to it with a put-out attitude when you ask a question.
    Quite a difference between offices, don’t you agree? At my doctor’s office they are professional, pleasant, competent & helpful & they work to support the person they work for, so you don’t end up with the opposite situation as I have just described. I wish I could find the same good doctor for my mom somewhere else because I’d walk out in heartbeat & not look back. I’d also be sure to tell the doctor why. Does anyone besides me think it may be a good idea to send the doctor a letter explaining what I’ve had to endure in his office? He has hired these people to take care of his business while he does what he does best, & he is in with a group of doctors. Now that I’ve written this, I think I may just do what I’ve proposed; I certainly have nothing to lose.

  5. OldNurse

    I agree wholeheartedly! If anyone else “on the street” impersonates a physician it’s against the law! The actors on TV are costumed in white coats, even a stethoscope, and rattle on about something that have absolutely no knowledge about, much less drugs and solutions, or human physiology!
    Plus, anything on TV costs a great deal of money, including the TV clerics, and churches – so it has to be assumed, they’re all very well off, and the pharmas certainly are increasing profits, daily, while Americans are suffering without the meds they need, and now many are halving their pills to make them “go farther.”
    The USA must stop the ads, period, in all forms that they appear under. Many people do not realize there is no authority possible with such advertising; it’s simply unwarranted, unethical, and a dangerous perpetuation of corporate rule in America.

  6. kck

    No, we don’t all curse and use crude language.

  7. dp

    Prescription drug sales went up 80% after drugs began being advertised on TV!! Drug companies have the big, big bucks now and virtually control any congressional bill that remotely applies to them. They lobby for these bills to be created. We have slipped from being a Republic to an Oligarchy! Let’s put our brain power and prayers behind returning to what’s best for the MAJORITY and for those who have no voice. This government by the rich(job creators we are supposed to refer to them now) and powerful is really getting old.

  8. rbtexas

    I just jumped in here so I’d like to back up a little ways. Back to the TV commercials for drugs. Has anyone ever stopped to add up the COST of TV drug commercials? The script writer fees, producer fees, the actor fees (no those are not real patients!), the recording fees, the film producer fees, on and on and on and then the COST TO AIR the commercials. EVERY SINGLE commercial for EVERY SINGLE DRUG you see is VERY COSTLY.
    AND ON EVERY TV CHANNEL ACROSS AMERICA! Do they get tax write offs for these costs? IF they would just provide info to the Doctors (and they do at another great expense with conventions for Dr’s) OUR DRUGS WOULD COST ONLY ONE FOURTH OF THE OUTRAGEOUS COST WE AND OUR INSURANCE HAS TO PAY! Think about it!!!

  9. gg

    peeve #5– coming to the clinic, or worse bringing your child, with a fever–not taking anything for it and then telling us that you wanted us to see “just how high” the temperature is. Take something, we are going to believe you. That way you are not suffering or making your child suffer.

  10. KA

    loved reading these comments. We need to all work together as a team. I have had good doc that I love and some bad one. Such is life. I will still be going to the Doc. Just if I have a doc that I don’t see eye to eye with, I ask for someone else. They have the right to do the same.
    Love to All

  11. Rx

    Hi Greg, I read your posts sometimes. I’m off topic here, but just want to encourage you and commend you for your work. (And the Graedons too! I tell all my friends to check out this site.)
    My pharmacist has been amazing (and I need to send him a TY note) — with his help I figured out a lot of my problems were due to drug side effects. He has been, literally, a life-saver. For decades I was not educated about how valuable a resource the pharmacist is. People should consult their pharmacists just like they check in with their doctors. In fact, before any new drug, I’d recommend a serious consult with your pharmacist. They are the ones who should have a list of every single thing you take. The doctors really don’t know that much about it, and don’t have time.

  12. PM

    My former doctor, whom has a large HIV+ patient population, venereal herpes blood test on me, without any symptoms or my knowledge. On my next visit, he informed me I had venereal herpes. I was very upset, I never had a lesion or any reason to suspect my husband of infidelity. When I found out how high the false positives rate was for the blood test, especially if you had previously had type 1 herpes (cold sores), I felt he was very irresponsible.
    This could have ruined a marriage! I am a 66 year old woman and I was very humiliated. I never trusted him again.

  13. L.V.N.

    Home Health patients who are not willing to provide adequate space for the patient and all their medical equipment. I do private duty with chronically ill, special needs children, and in 20 years, I have only seen TWO whose parents have put them in the largest bedroom in the house.
    They typically have themselves in the master bedroom (whether they’re married or single) and the sick child is usually in the smallest bedroom in the house. This occurs in both poor and rich houses.
    When I was single and moved my two children and myself into a two bedroom apartment, I took the smaller room and put the two boys in the master bedroom, as they had to share. Luckily, mine didn’t require all that medical equipment. But I can’t imagine putting a chronically ill child with quadriplegia, feeding tubes,wheelchair, and breathing machines, and a HUGE lift needed to move them several times a day, into an 8X10 foot room, so that I could have the big bedroom for no actual reason.

  14. kjm

    My primary physician is capable and caring; my pharmacist is patient and helpful. RNs, CNPs, PAs have been insulting and dangerous. My present problem is an allergy to all opiates and having nothing but aspirin and alcohol for pain relief. Which would be acceptable if the surgeons didn’t smirk when they declared there was nothing else to be done.

  15. Pharmacy Tech

    Problem Pharmacy Customers:
    Call and ask if we have 270 roxicodone in stock. We are not going to give that info over the phone.
    Bring in CII’s 10 minutes before closing.
    Bring in an out of town script (usually a CII) after doctor’s hours expecting to have it filled.
    Call for refills but don’t know what meds are being taken.
    Call and ask for all meds to be filled, then ask the cashier why certain medicines are in the order.
    Bring in new scripts and have no idea what the doctor ordered.
    Bring in a bag of 20 prescription bottles and want to know what is missing.
    Visit in groups of five (or whatever) to buy pseudoephedrine and all have ID’s from another parish.
    Call to chat about your medication/condition before getting to the point. We need birth date and name to view your profile before we can truly help you.
    Finally, If you are mad at the doctor, the traffic, your insurance company, or the price of groceries, please don’t take it out on the tech.

  16. Chris

    I think the only problem with “p*** off” is that here in the UK it means something a little different from the American usage of “being annoyed”.
    Here it is quite rude invective that strongly encourages somebody who has annoyed you to go away.
    But, this being a US website, I think we would understand the difference in meaning “over there”. :-)

  17. beau10

    bja: When I read your post I was reminded of a condition I had and resolved. The condition I had was ‘venous stasis dermatitis’. I also received about the same responses from doctors who seem threatened when confronted with symptoms they don’t recognize or simply don’t know. I spent beaucoup time online, found what looked like my condition, went to a doctor who said “Yep, that look’s about right – but there isn’t really any treatment” (keep in mind this was a several years ago).
    I am not going to list all the symptoms – look up the condition I mentioned early and see if it fits. What I did was start losing weight, changed my diet (and I mean a radical revision), exercising (not just a mild walk in the afternoon, but a work-at-it-hard-regimen-until-you-sweat-hard) and when I had any available moment, sat down and raised my legs above heart level. That is also the position I employed when asleep – my legs raised on pillows and above heart level.
    Unbelievably, it worked (the flesh became less and less red and swollen) and the condition reversed itself. My doctor told me I was “one in a million” and took pictures of my legs. I was told the dark stain was left-over iron deposits from the blood in the flesh and would not dissipate – but it has continued to fade and is almost totally faded in my left leg and a part of my right is only slightly darker.
    I sincerely hope this might be the same condition with which you are now afflicted – because if it is, perhaps you will have the same positive results as I. Good luck, best wishes.

  18. bja

    First of all, I am not bothered by the words Piss Off. After I have my say, you will understand why.
    My right foot became discolored over 6 years ago. Purplish red lesions. I went to my then doctor (a DO) who looked at it and said, “I don’t have time for this sh*t”. Yes those were his exact words. My reply to him was much more graphic than piss off. After many doctors looking at it and scratching their heads, I went to my podiatrist. She biopsied it right then and there. She tested me for PAD. No one else would. Yes I have PAD. My veins do not function. My leg is swollen, my foot is 2 sizes bigger than it was 5 years ago.
    My podiatrist also tested me for auto immune disorders. Positive for RA. I had been begging for years to be tested for Lupus. I am symptomatic of scleraderma. I have COPD. I am in pain everyday. I was told you could have fibro, by a rheumatologist.
    My current doctor will not treat the pain. Aqua PT. It is making it worse. I have a back issue (also found by my podiatrist) it is worsening every session.
    The new doctor took four weeks to get an appt for an echo on my husband. She told me she will call with the results. Then she wants an appt. She told me it is no big deal, we will watch it and re check in a year. Still no real results. I hurt my thumb 5 weeks ago. Tore muscles tendons everything that could be damaged it was. She was to get me an appt with a hand surgeon. The joint is painful and pops and clicks. Difficult to use it. I am still waiting.
    I check all my meds before taking them. I carry an up to date list with me. I research my illnesses. I ask questions. I expect answers. I have an appt Dec 20. I will want to know my husbands results and why I have not gotten a referral.
    Oh as a ps,I saw a vascular surg many years ago. He said, there’s something wrong with you, I just don’t know what. I can’t do anything for you. The second one I saw, said it’s from my legs. Funny he never looked at them.
    Some doctors are just in it for the money and the perks from big pharma. That’s another long story.
    Where is Marcus Welby when you need him?

  19. CM

    We would like to see a silent ten or fifteen second ad stating that the pharmaceutical company has donated an identified and large amount of money to help the under-insured or chronically ill to purchase health care or medication. Some actual identifiable and trackable compassion on their part might encourage us to consider their product(s).
    But the present commercials they put on tv are so wildly weird the viewer wonders who the target audience could possibly be.

  20. Rachel

    My suggestion if for patients: Whenever your physician prescribes something for you – make certain that you know what it is for. This will help in the event that the physician’s handwriting is nearly illegible. When you hand the prescription to the pharmacist – you can tell the pharmacist when handing him/her the prescription that the medicine was (for example) prescribed for your acid reflux disease. In this way, the pharmacist will be less likely to make a mistake when filling your prescription. I always to do this and also ask my husband to do this when he hands his prescription to the pharmacist.

  21. Helen

    I agree 100% with you. Remembering how they advertised cigarettes– now its – medications, (most have so many bad side effects who would want them) A pill doesn’t solve everyone’s ailments. It seems to be the opposite, the more you take the worse you feel!!! WE should all start protesting this medicine advertising junk.
    Helen B

  22. Walter C.

    I have little but praise for the surgeons, doctor and nurses who have attended me in the previous twenty five years. Yes, some of the more senior Europeans had egos which were wonderous to contemplate. Nevertheless, I will bear in mind the comments which have been made when next I attend upon them.
    However, I must say I wince at the sight and sound of People’s Pharmacy using that awful phrase. In so doing, you have lowered the tone of the proceedings. And NO we do not all use it in what can only be called common speech. For that is what the phrase is: Used by folk who have the inability to search for a phrase which describes their feeling without using the language of a guttersnipe.
    Would I have used the phrase in the hearing of my Mother? Certainly not. Then why use it at all?

  23. Greg Pharmacy Student

    I couldn’t agree more with you. The moment I say that something is not my problem is the moment that someone else steps up and says they will fix that problem and I lose business.
    While I can and do happily fax or call your doctor for refills I can not say when the doctor will likely return my call. I cannot usually speed up the process and I cannot fill a prescription that is without refills or expired.
    I want people to have medications, because it’s the right thing and it pays the bills.
    It is just as frustrating for me as for you that I can call a doctor on a Monday and not get a reply until 3 or more days later.

  24. gk

    The customer is always right. Never forget you are in business to make money. The money comes from your customers. It is not about you. It is about your customers, and, each has a different need that should be met. It IS your job to help with refills and anything else a customer wants. You really need to adjust your attitude. If you heed this advice, you will be happier and ahead of most.

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