Where can I complain about a doctor's behavior?


I had a very disturbing visit to a new doctor recently. I feel he treated me disrespectfully and inappropriately, yet nothing bad enough to make me feel I need to seek legal action, etc. Among other things, he equated my social weekend drinking to using crystal meth. Then, as I kindly said I would seek a second opinion, he shouted “Well you’re not going to find anyone better than me!” Very frustrating.

So I was wondering if there was a website or something where I could voice my opinion and experience (besides this one). You know, there is now a website where people can whine and share stories about bad college professors; I was wondering if there’s something similar for doctors.

Thanks for your help…

My son had a rectal bleeding incident one Thanksgiving. I took him to the ER and the doctor asked him if he drinks. He said yes, and the doctor proceeded to go into a rant, telling us that he would have to go into detox, never drink again, liver scans, the whole bit. Full blown alcoholism diagnosis. This is in the first 5 minutes of talking to him. No x-rays, blood tests, nothing but a handshake.

Turns out he has colitis. Stupid fucker.

How about your insurance company?

If you think it was bad write your state’s medical board about it. Try docboard.org for a link!
But if it was just stupid rudeness I’d leave it alone. Complaints to the medical board should be over stuff they can control and I doubt that they’d get involve in this.

Well, at least this doctor is aware of the potential dangers of substance abuse. It could be worse. I’ll explain.

My husband has a substance abuse problem. He has been in been struggling with recovery for a few years now, and has been clean for about 3 months. However, he has many side effects from all his years of drugging. One is that he will need a hip replacement, the other is a seizure disorder. We were in the orthopedist office this past Monday morning, and out of the clear blue, he has a seizure. These are not typical but have happened before. He fell off the exam table and hit his head on the adjacent chair. So, the EMT came and we go to the emergency room. Not for the first time.

There, the doctor who treated him, who was absolutely aware of his substance abuse problems, treats him for pain. Gives him a percocet and a script for vicoden. Tells us that it’s ok because it is for the acute trauma and will not affect his addiction issues. What? Am I in the twillight zone? These ‘addiction issues’ are why he needs a hip replacement and is having seizures in the first place. The nurse who assisted us, going behind the doctor’s back, told us that she didn’t think the vicoden script was appropriate. well, duh! of course not. In the end we gave it back to her. If my birthday had any saving grace (did i mention this happened on my birthday?) it was my addict husband giving up a painkiller script.

My husband now takes ownership and responsibility for his problems, but there are times when doctors are not at all careful enough when dealing with people with addictions. Do no harm, right? I’d like to find a good site to complain about doctors. My husband got involved with pills in the first place with a pain management “doctor”.

Me, bitter? Nah.


Well, couple of questions first

  1. Was this your first visit with this doctor?

If yes, and he’s never seen you, doesn’t know your history, was basically being a judgemental twit, then by all means, call your insurance. Especially if this is an HMO and he is your Primary Care doctor. It isn’t right that other people be subjected to Dr. Schweitzer’s god complex. If not, and he has seen you before, this is something he’s noticed, maybe he’s trying to tell you something. On the other hand, the “You won’t get anybody better than me” comment leads me back to god complex.
2. And I’m trying to be as diplomatic as possible: Did your diagnosis have anything to do with the alcohol content in your blood? Don’t answer that. To me, anyway.

Again, if yes, maybe he is seeing a trend and wants you to get some help. If no, it’s pretty much along the same lines as telling a 19yo female that her nausea is pregnancy without even taking a pee test, and is misdiagnosis and rudeness at best, malpractice at worst.

Complain to your insurance company. If it’s an HMO, and he’s your Primary Care doctor, switch doctors. The insurance company will log the complaint and forward it to provider relations, who will also note the doctor’s file. After 3 such complaints, the doctors are suspended. Their MD does not give them the right to treat you like that. Ask your friends & family who they reccommend before just picking a name out of the book, then call the office to see what the staff is like. They’re a direct reflection on your doctor. If they’re helpful, cheery, and know what they’re doing, chances are good the doctor will to.

Hey guys, thanks for the responses.

He’s not my PCP, but a specialized doctor for whom I got a referral. What we were discussing had very little to do with alcohol, but as he was grasping for reasons to blame me and not himself for my symptoms not clearing up, he jumped all over the social drinking thing.

It was just very frustrating to encounter a doctor whose only concern seemed to be retaining an inflated image of himself. He wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise, he got angry when I told him that he prescribed me four medications on my last visit (he argued that it was three, but I proved that it was four), and blew up when I said I would seek other opinions. Like I said, nothing to get really upset about, but if I can keep others away from falling into his patient mill, then that’s cool.

Anyways, thanks for your help.

I think you should contact your state medical board or license and practice board if (as it is in a few states) there’s not a medical specific organization.

It may not have been bad enough for an action, but they will record your complaint and if there are more about the same doctor they might decide there’s enough evidence to do an investigation.

I forgot to add, don’t bother with the AMA. I’ve heard enough about them to feel it wouldn’t do any good.

You can look up contact info for your state medical board at the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Web site: http://www.fsmb.org/members.htm

Based on Qazzz’s contributions to the SDMB so far, I suspect his doctor may have had his hands full. I wonder if there’s a website where doctors can whine and share stories about bad patients?

Sorry to hear about your trouble with this doctor, Qazzz. Sounds pretty frustrating.

I’d suggest speaking with the doctor himself, before anything else. Ask what his reasoning was in relating your problems to alcohol. Perhaps it’s possible that there is a medical connection between your symptoms and alcohol use, and he just did a poor job articulating his reasons for thinking so.
If his judgements still seem unfounded and unfair, tell him why you want to seek a second opinion, and that you feel he has treated you without respect or consideration. If he’s difficult to reach by phone, and you don’t want to come in for an office visit, send him a polite letter explaining your concerns, and requesting an explanation.

I work in a doctor’s office, and completely innocent misunderstandings do happen sometimes. Fairly often, actually. If you think your doctor’s acting like a big ass, make SURE he’s acting like a big ass before reporting him.

That said, some doctors are indeed big asses (as are some people in any profession), and if your doctor is being arrogant and hostile to the point that it undermines your trust in his care, then, yes, you can report him. And your medical board would be one place to do that.
Finally, you’ll probably want to ask your PCP to refer you to someone else, and to tell him/her about your unpleasant experience with the specialist.

Best wishes, hope you feel better -

I’m sorry, but you have me completely stumped. What does substance abuse have to do with the need for a hip replacement. I work with physicians, and I have NEVER heard of this one before.

Please explain.

Its best to avoid narcotic pain-killers when the patient has a history of addiction.

Sometimes this is not possible. Certainly such medications are necessary for post-surgical pain, or certain other types of disorders. But for a head laceration, or chronic hip pain, I would certainly consider other alternatives first. A shot of Toradol can work wonders for acute pain syndromes.

However, to withhold narcotic analgesics because of a history of substance abuse when they are clearly necessary can be, IMHO, tantamount to malpractice.

Aseptic necrosis is often responsible for needing a new hip. And it can often be caused by vasculitis from IV drug abuse.

Alcoholism in and of itself is also frequenty the cause of aseptic necrosis.

Enough serial posting. I’m going to bed.

Qadgop the Mercotan - thank you for answering my question.