6 Possible Red Flags When Dealing With a Healthcare Provider

Choosing a doctor or another health provider, like a chiropractor or physiotherapist, takes a bit of research on your end. There are intangibles beyond qualifications that you may want to consider, which could put up barriers to communication and subsequently lead to incorrect diagnoses.

You should feel comfortable on all levels with your health provider, knowing you have the freedom of turning to them for accurate advice and treatment. However, here are six warning signs that you may want to switch practitioners or avoid certain ones in the first place…


1. Rudeness

Doctors sometimes are very “black and white” about their recommendations and treatment options, and that’s fine to a certain point (as long as it’s helpful). But if they start being condescending when you’re asking questions or have concerns, then it’s time to show yourself out.

Rolling their eyes when you mention your symptoms or not seeming to register what you just said to them are biggies. “One of the clearest signs you should move on is if he or she walks out of the room while you’re still talking,” notes U.S. News.

2. Advising Outside Their Scope of Practice

This one is more about massage therapists and chiropractors, but can also be relevant for general practitioners. For example, if a massage therapist or physiotherapist starts questioning your medications and suggests other ones, those could be red flags.

Family doctors often have a broad knowledge base, but mostly do not specialize in any particular area. If a GP starts giving advice about possible neurological conditions or mental health issues without solid explanations, you might want to check their qualifications in those areas or ask to be referred to a specialist.

3. Disclosing Unauthorized Information

The American Psychological Association notes that employers, insurance companies and other third parties may request information about you, and that “psychologists need to carefully balance the disclosure with their ethical obligations to protect their patients’ confidentiality.”

Health professionals only need to disclose what’s required by law or what you’ve agreed to disclose, notes the source. This is more than just a matter of ethics. As a patient, you can make a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services if you believe unauthorized information has been released about you from a healthcare provider, and the provider can face penalties.

4. Pushing Services on You

Just like what might happen at a mechanic’s garage, you could find yourself being pressured by a doctor or dentist for services you may not need to get fixed. You should be able to trust that the doctor or other professional is selling you on what needs to be done for your health, not for their wallet.

An article about being overcharged at the doctor’s office from U.S. News notes an advisory panel identified 45-overused medical tests such as unnecessary x-rays or stress tests that could be reduced. One of the key ways to avoid overpaying for services is to get a second opinion, notes the source. It adds that visiting medical schools or clinics for care can be a cheaper (and still high quality) option.

5. Discourteous Office Staff

Your doctor, dentist or chiropractor may be great, but what about the support staff? Do they greet you by name, or at least treat you with respect when you visit? Do they chat on the phone about a non-work related matter when you’re standing at the counter, or make you sit for long periods of time without letting you know when you’ll see the doctor?

If the support staff is not pleasant to deal with, it can be a deterrent for some to book regular appointments. If you value your relationship with the health professional, you could speak with them about your concerns, and if they seem dismissive it may be time to move on.

6. Lacking Communication

Keeping you informed throughout treatment is important, but not all health professionals are experts at it. Your health providers should be able to clearly explain what needs to be done, or guidelines to follow, without needing you to dig information out of them constantly.

Part of effective communication for health professionals is the ability to relay important information to other healthcare teams as needed (and allowed under law). The more your health providers know about your overall health picture, the better your overall treatment plans will be, and the more peace of mind you’ll likely have.

Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.