When to Fire Your Doctor

June 4, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I’ve written about what to do when your doctor gives up on you and while I consider this to be unacceptable, it does happen. And you have to deal with it.

But sometimes, you need to give up on them.

Sometimes you need to fire your doctor.

Your Psychiatrist Works for You

Your doctor actually works for you. You sign his paychecks. You are paying a lot of money to spend time with him. He is an expensive consultant. That you can fire anytime you want. (Ask the consultants in a tech company. I know of one who was fired after two days.)

guy_pink_slipPeople forget this. People somehow think they owe the doctor their loyalty. You don’t. They owe you. They owe you their best clinical work; just like that tech consultant owes the company his very best code.

Making the Relationship Work

This is not to suggest you should throw a hissy-fit every time the doctor says something you don’t like. Doctors are going to say things you don’t like. It’s pretty much their job description.

I’m a big believer in trying to make the relationship work as switching doctors repeatedly will hurt your treatment in the end, so needlessly doctor hopping doesn’t help anyone. A doctor who has known you over a longer period understands your health, your situation, your priorities and can treat you more effectively.

How to Make the Relationship Work

I believe many patients don’t get what they want because they don’t articulate themselves clearly. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t all the patient’s fault. The doctor should be asking the right questions to make sure you get what you want. But in the absence of their attention to detail, you need to be very clear and upfront about what you’re looking for.

If you don’t tell your tech consultant what color the font is in the program, he’ll guess. And it’ll be wrong. (Techies are not known for the color-sense.)

Over and over again I hear from people that their doctor isn’t taking their complaints seriously. OK; I hear you. But have you stood in front of you doctor and said,

“This medication is producing X side effect and I find it intolerable. What is your plan to deal with this?”

No? You haven’t said that? Well then how the heck is he supposed to help?

Most people won’t be that direct with their doctor because they’re scared. Which I completely understand. But that fear is keeping you from getting the best care possible. The fear is not worth that. Your care is more important.

When to Fire Your Doctor

Here are some reasons you might fire your doctor:

  • He has no idea what to do with your treatment. Time for a referral to someone else.
  • No matter how loudly you scream, he isn’t listening to you.
  • He can’t or refuses to answer your questions to your satisfaction.
  • He doesn’t respect your wishes or take your priorities seriously.

you are firedAs I’ve said, I think it’s best to work with your doctor if possible, but it isn’t always. Sometimes you just have to hand out a pink slip.

And that’s OK. If your doctor is a professional and you handle it professionally, they should be able to refer you to someone with whom you may be able to work better. Perhaps:

I appreciate all you’ve done for me but I feel it would be better if I saw someone else. Who can you recommend?

Remember, you might change hairstylists if you walk out of the salon with bed head, you might change auto mechanics if the knocking and pinging comes back and you should consider changing doctors if you’re not getting what you need from that relationship.

Because your health is sure the heck more important than your hair. Or the font color.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, June 4). When to Fire Your Doctor, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

October, 2 2014 at 6:58 pm

i fired my psych after 13 years with him i had a major relapse he'd been trying to sort it for almost 1 year in and out of the hospital i also cut the last time i ended up in the hospital under his care he told me there was nothing he could do for me and that he was going to send me home with the advice to just try to not cut too deep so i wouldn't need stitches he was ready to sign the discharge and i said i'm requesting a transfer of care if i hadn't switched dr's i might have gone home and cut "too deep" and i could have killed myself if a dr. isn't working for you it could have a very serious and even deadly effect on your life make them earn their place on your team

Brian Muntz
September, 16 2014 at 6:50 pm

I want to fire my Psychiatrist. After 10 years and many many different medications, I still tried twice to commit suicide. After he sees me, he just increases my meds, get pissed at me for using his prescriptions and then says see you in 90 days. He has been seeing me every 90 days for 6 mins. I get no satisfaction on any health plans. I have been told that firing the quack puts me on a many year waiting list. Damned if you do and damn if you don't. I tired of being a psycho med rat. I want real results and a proper diagnoses. After 10 years he still wont diagnose me. My family doctor feels I am bipolar type 1 rapid cycler. He also agrees my depression and anxiety is out of control. He also agrees the meds I am taking are not working. Lastly my family doctor agrees the dosage i'm on is why to high, greater than CPS recommended, and am likely to have serious and dangerous side effects. I had my family doctor refer me to Ontario Shores for assessment. I was denied because my Psychiatrist refused to condon the referral. My family doctor says I need a specialist and he is unable to help me because it's not his field of study. All social programs I have applied to for long term help have denied me. Being formed 1 at the hospital has had no positive effect other than 72 hours of rest and thrown back to the wolves. I need some sound advice here. I want to take charge of my health and well being. I need to change my mental health care and care givers. I am not looking for pills. I am looking for treatment, moving forward, getting back to work and contributing to my life and society. Lastly I don't want to die. I have lost that battle twice this year and was lucky. I don't know if I will be continuously lucky or not in the immediate future. I have the local crisis line handy but they too are at ropes end to help me. They now just check to see if I have thoughts or taken action. When I took action, the solution was to form 1 me and hope for the best. I hate Ontario Health Care for mental health issues. Been suffering for 41 years now. It hasn't got any better... the government has played on the stigma of give your head a shake and get a job. They deny every so called service they have created for mental health help or support. Why even bother. It's just looks good for the polls. True help is not readily available. No wonder suicide rates are so high as well as addiction and homelessness. Are people even listening out there? Any suggestions other than offing myself is welcome.

Charles Mistretta
January, 5 2013 at 2:28 am

Find a sympathetic soul you can count on. My cat is aloof but does not worry about my emotions. She is simply there for food and comfort like any other animal. Nearing 67, I can report dreaded bouts of depression that are more like events than episodes. The upside is that the occurrence of depression have subsided, the span between feeling really crappy and whatever normal is, is widening. But the consequence of chemical depression is still something to be cautious of. Emotions also trigger depression. Learn to distinguish between a bitchy spouse and neuron meltdown. The external sources of discomfort are easy to overcome without alienating just about everybody you know.
The chemical ones are always temporary, and the pain is reduced with the right environment, and or medication - even if its a placebo. A spending spree is not an example of a placebo - though you will feel better until the bills come. If any of this sounds familiar then you are bi polar, but still a living human being who can still experience joy as well as share it.
My guardian angel holds my silver bullet for me. I don't expect her/him to hand it over any time during this lifetime. When I leave this earth I want it to be a surprise for everyone.

KF Carroll
December, 4 2012 at 3:27 pm

I'm about to fire my doc of 4 years because his wife, who's his office manager, is rude, snide, and unprofessional. (When I'm trying to be polite I say, "She just doesn't appreciate the GRAVITY of working in a psychiatrist's office.) I've also come in to find their teenage daughter using the computer (since all the records are computerized, I can only assume she could see my file if she wanted to.) He and I had a very serious talk about my concerns over a year ago. He listened carefully but said things weren't going to change. However, I had secretly hoped he'd be coaching his wife/office manager about how to treat patients. Apparently not. Yesterday brought another snide remark from wifey, and that was the last straw. I told myself, I don't need to LEAVE my psychiatrist's office feeling worse than when I walked in. I've seen lots of articles about when to fire your psychiatrist, but none have addressed the very serious issues of rude office staff or a potential lack of confidentiality.

Dr Musli Ferati
June, 10 2011 at 7:53 pm

Over again an intricate and useful writing, in the same time, from You Ms. Tracy. It should take into account that the good relationship between doctor and patient is crucial step in satisfaction result of medication. The prerequisite for this intention is goodwill of doctor to helping the respective patient, who in other side should be able to express its healthy problems. Without this kind of relationship the therapeutic process would be half-witted. Where it is in question mentally ill patient the issue become most sensible. If it exist any mistrust int therapeutic diade then the successful treatment would be a daydream. Besides this acrid truthfulness it might to occur the process of fired of doctor, in which situation it is advisable to look for another doctor. but this solution has got its defective consequences. Above all others, it isn't habits to undress oneself psychologically to many psychiatrist, because psychic disorders are very intimacy torment. Therefore, it is absolute necessity to create an understanding therapeutic milieu when the mutual confidence should manage from beginning to end the difficult and longevity treatment.

Wendy from Australia
June, 10 2011 at 5:08 pm

I have HAD to doctor hop through one period as I was getting sicker and sicker and didn't know until I ultimately made and near-death attempt on my life that each one was mis-medicating my Bipolar with SSRI's which can be good for many Bipolars, but fatal to others. I didn't know about this until after the suicide attempt, moved from the city to the country, found a psych who knew about all this and took me off then two and a half years ago and had he not, I'd be dead now. My sense of the crazy scenario of the string of doctors prescriging me these meds is the relatinship wit "big Pharma" and all the kick backs that happen between the two for specific prescribing practices.

June, 5 2011 at 10:34 am

This couldn't have come at a better time. I see a new psychiatrist this week. My current one just doesn't listen to me. I have bipolar, anxiety and adhd and he has me on 10 different meds. I'm exhausted and I believe it's because of the meds but he doesn't hear me I even had my husband come to my appointment a few times and he still doesn't hear it. I feel so guilty leaving though. I've been with him for 3 years and in those 3 years I haven't gotten any better. But as a person I really like him.
Thanks for writing this.

Natasha Tracy
June, 5 2011 at 8:39 am

Hi Craig,
"I have had to fire some family and friends"
I know that's sad, but that quote is kind of great.
"I just try to be proactive and communicate what works and what does not."
And that's what we should all be, if we can. It's a challenge when you're sick, but it pays to think about it when you're not; it encourages you when you are.
You are welcome :)
- Natasha

Craig T
June, 4 2011 at 8:10 pm

My doctor is the only thing consistent for me in my recovery. However, I have had to fire some family and friends due to not having any desire to differentiate sickness from their desired recovery plan for me. I just try to be proactive and communicate what works and what does not.
Thanks again for another terrific writing Natasha.

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