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Nurses Are Sharing Little Signals For Patients To Spot That Show A Doctor Or Therapist Won't Be Helpful

After learning that most nurses have a "doctors I don't want to treat me" list, I thought I'd ask healthcare workers of the BuzzFeed Community for the little red flags us patients should look for in a doctor that would tell us to run away. Here are some of their very useful responses!


1."For psychiatrists or psychotherapists: If they tell you they can guarantee success, that's at least a yellow flag. Good success rates are often possible, and optimism is good. Perfect success rates and arrogance are not."


2."If your doctor doesn’t even give you the basic exam of listening to your heart and lungs, RUN."


3."Doctors who do a lot of 'uh huh,' 'yep, yep,' after everything you say are probably not listening thoroughly — they've likely already got their mind made up about what's wrong and what they want to do about it. Asking them if the information you're sharing is helpful may bring their attention back to the most important person in the room: you."



4."Mental health-wise, if a therapist says it could be worse, drop them."


5."Red flag: They behave angrily toward you if you want a second opinion. As a human, I may feel hurt or disappointed (or yes, even angry) when you doubt me. But as a professional, I recognize that I may make mistakes, not know things, or you need more facts or want to be more sure of the diagnosis/treatment. And you are entitled to your own healthcare decisions, no matter if I like them or not."


6."Please, please, please find a new therapist if they use your time to talk about themselves. Some self-disclosure is appropriate and can be helpful for the client, but it really shouldn’t happen every session."



7."If a nurse ever tells you casually, 'You know it never hurts to get a second opinion,' alarm bells should be going off in your head. Every single nurse has a list of providers we would never let touch us or our loved ones. But you can’t outright slander a doctor or surgeon. This is us telling you to RUN!"


8."I’m a social worker who has worked in medical and inpatient psych settings. A major red flag for me is when any provider continuously misgenders someone. Someone who can’t be bothered to use someone’s correct pronouns is not committed to patient care! I always wonder about whether there are other discriminatory practices or beliefs that are less blatant."


9."I am a therapist, and people should look for the following: If the therapist seems too gimmicky or knows a lot of stuff with flashy wording in their website, run. They usually are money hungry."


a therapist taking notes and talking with a client
Sdi Productions / Getty Images

10."If they are more interested in telling you what is going on with your body instead of listening to your symptoms, that is a major red flag to leave immediately. No one should be able to tell you what you are or aren’t feeling. You are the expert on your body and what it’s feeling, not them!"


11."Ask the nurse about the doctor when it’s just them in the room. If they say something vague like, 'We have very good providers here,' but don’t specifically say anything about your specific provider, that’s a red flag. If a patient asks about a specific provider I work with and I believe in their competence and concern for patients, I will highlight some of their best qualities as a provider. For example, I’ll say, 'Dr. X has a natural talent for what they do!' or, 'They genuinely care about their patients and are really good!' This was true when I worked in the ICU before as well as in procedural areas. If they specifically reference the doc, then they probably have at least some good things to say."

"If they keep it vague to the group of providers, I would ask more detailed questions to feel out if they are dodging answering the question more fully — they probably aren’t going to risk disciplinary action to tell you that the provider is on their 'Don’t Let This Doctor Ever Treat Me' list (we all have this list…)."


12."I’m a nurse, but speaking from the patient perspective here. If you feel like you’re being rushed out of the office by your provider, you probably are. They should always take the time to explain the whys to you and take the time to listen to your concerns without judgments."


13."Beware of a doctor that gives you everything you ask for — from drugs to tests to procedures. A GOOD doctor is discerning. You are there to get an expert’s help, so if they are doing everything you say, that is a red flag."



14."RN here! The doctors at my hospital round on their patients every day, and some just look at the patients charts rather than the actual patient. So, if you're in hospital and you go days without seeing your doctor, that strikes me as a red flag. How can you assess your patient if you don't even lay eyes on them?"


15."When your primary doctor won't refer you to a specialist. I suffered with horrific stomach pain for a year. My primary kept trying to manage it without testing. I finally switched to a different doctor, who sent me to a gastroenterologist. I was scoped, and when I woke up, the gastroenterologist told me I had 'the biggest ulcer they've ever seen.'"


16."If you are referred to a specialist, and want a good one, expect to wait. It’s not uncommon even in very large metro areas to wait 2–3 months to see someone that your primary doctor trusts."


patients in a waiting room
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

17.Finally, "Nurse here with 10+ years in a specialty office. Check your state’s licensing board website. Most will show settlements, suspensions, and probations. My state will also show locations that the MD has had privileges at. It’s a huge red flag if they move frequently. My office had an incredibly toxic MD that had four hospital associations in just over five years."


Wolf Entertainment

Are you a nurse or medical professional who wants to share red flags you've noticed in other healthcare providers? Share them in the comments below or completely anonymously via this Google form.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.