My Doctor and I Don’t Agree
Sometimes, you and your doctor may not see eye to eye on what the problem is or what to do about it. This can happen even when you both try to make decisions together. What should you do? You can tell your doctor you would like a second opinion from another doctor. Different doctors may have other treatment approaches, or they might confirm that your doctor is giving you the right advice.
If you disagree about causing your problem, you can still reach an agreement on what to try. For example, you may not agree with you doctor that you have a mental illness, or you may disagree with their particular diagnosis. Even so, you may still agree and what to try next to help you feel better.
You may disagree with your doctor on what approach to try. For example, the doctor may want to try a medication first, while you may want to try talking therapy before taking medication. Or you may be attracted to “alternative” approaches such as mindfulness meditation or help that comes from your own cultural tradition. Get your doctor’s feedback and discuss the pros and cons. You may decide to try a combination of approaches.
If you have doubts about what your doctor recommends, ask for more information. If you are concerned about side-effects from a drug, for example, knowing more may help you make a decision.
If you disagree with what your doctor recommends, explain why and ask for different options. You may find one that is more satisfactory.
If you still disagree about what to do, make sure that each of you understands what the other is saying, and why. You can start by saying “I hear that you said……, and your reason is…..” Then ask the doctor to tell you what he or she heard you say. You might find that you haven’t understood each other.
If you still don’t agree, tell the doctor what you plan to do and make arrangements to check back and let the doctor know how you are doing. It’s OK to disagree, but it’s not a good idea to stop seeing your doctor at the first disagreement. Give the doctor a chance to respond to your plans, and come up with a plan of action on how to follow up with your doctor.
You can tell your doctor you would like a second opinion from another doctor. Different doctors may have other treatment approaches, or they might confirm that your doctor is giving you the right advice.