Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why are doctors so rude ?

One of the commonest complaints patients have about their doctors is that they are impolite or rude. I feel this is especially true for doctors who have a hospital-based practise. Hospitals tend to breed rude behaviour. Even polite doctors tend to become arrogant once they have spent a few years in a hospital.

For one thing, doctors in hospitals are very busy and they often just don't have time for the common pleasantries which we take for granted in our daily life. Many of them are brusque and down-to-earth because they need to get on with their serious job of taking care of their patients, and they simply cannot afford to chit-chat with patients or their relatives. This is why they put on a shield which protects them from having to spend too much time with one patient. They cultivate an aura of superiority and aloofness to allow themselves to accomplish their tasks effectively.

They are usually accompanied by a retinue of assistants and juniors - and they often spend more time talking to them than to patients. Since nurses and juniors are deferential and respectful, patients are expected to toe the line and follow suit !

Hospitals can be hot-beds of political rivalry amongst doctors, most of whom have large egos and play a superb game of one-upmanship. They often have to show how much busier they are than the other doctors, so appearing to be overworked and rushing around from bed to bed ( because they have such a heavy workload) is considered to be an asset. This makes them even more unapproachable.

Today, because doctors try to take as many hospital attachments as possible ( to augment their income), they are so busy rushing around from hospital to hospital, they they have even lesser time to spend with an individual patient.

Finally, many hospital-based doctors do not have a personal relationship with their patients. Patients often come to them because of the reputation of the hospital in which they work , so they rarely bother to establish a rapport with them - every patient they treat is like every other patient.

Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour does exact a toll - and many patients and families resent the doctor's high-handedness. This damages a doctor-patient relationship - and leads to lawsuits when things go wrong.

It's been proven that doctors who take the time to sit and talk to patients ( even if it's for just a few minutes) are seen to be much more caring and thoughtful than those who don't - and these doctors do much better in clinical practise too !


  1. Anonymous8:53 PM

    doctors are rude because they normally have the GOD SYNDROME!

    1. Anonymous3:35 AM

      I am a doctor and I agree completely with this - God complex and arrogance (I know a whole bunch of docs are going to comment and defend this, so I will say there are many exceptions) - the thing is, they don't only treat patients like this, but colleagues too. I have been on the receiving end of many nasty words from colleagues (most recently, this morning from a specialist who felt that I was rude to her because I greeted the nurse before I greeted her, which showed disrespect). Doctors need to learn to be humble and respectful to patients and colleagues alike!

  2. Anonymous4:02 PM

    That's a nice idea, that doctors have no time to be polite. So how do they find the time to be insulting? It looks good on paper, that they are naive or innocent, but it doesn't hold up to reality. I think they just like seeing how far they can go before people are ready to slap them. Like they have become numb from their work with the sick and dying, and need a slap to help them feel something again. They can go pay a dominatrix for that, instead of trying to get it from their patients at the cost of their reputation.

  3. Anonymous12:21 AM

    As a hospitalist, I feel someone resentful of this. I do not feel that I am arrogant but do feel that I am incredibly busy. And I am not pretending to be busy. I would prefer to work less and get paid less, but that is not an option because there are too many patients and not enough hospitalists. But speaking of rude behavior, if you are a patient, please turn off your phone. At least 4-5 times per day a patient or family member answers their cell phone while I am standing there talking to them. I usually wait until they are done with the conversation, but am beginning to just walk out. And I don't come back when it is convenient for them. By answering the phone and talking on it (it's okay if the conversation is 30 sec of you saying that the doctor is in the room and you will call them back) - you are telling me that your phone call is more important than your health. Why should I treat it any differently?

    1. Anonymous9:34 PM

      I can put up with rude in a rush no hellos or nice too meet you's BUT I've been flat out insulted beyond belief so much so ,I can't respond I'm so floored my mind goes blank and I've got a mouth trust me.
      Just Mean ugly very personal jabs like someone who hates you..they just throw in and back to normal talk before you can think WHAT>>>no he didn't
      My advise ..don't act weak or sad even if you are because thats when I've been attacked ..god help the next jerk who says a word I have had it ...no more

  4. Anonymous4:50 PM

    It's just like an arrogant Dr to make that arrogant statement of how they leave the patient's room if the patient is on their cell phone and how they won't come back when it's convenient for the patient. That's why I don't like nor trust doctors.

    1. Anonymous3:50 AM

      It is actually rude for the patient to have their cell on. Good that he walks out.

  5. Anonymous1:49 AM

    we actually banned cell phones from our Drs office, you would be talking to a patient and their Cell rings and they tell YOU to hold on, and I'm suppose to sit their and wait until they finish their conversation and then continue my questions? Nope, I asked them politley to move over and I then serve the next Patient. The Dr also walks into the room,if the Patient is on the phone,and they if they don't end their call, he walks back and and goes into see the next person, then will come back after that. When they realize he is not coming straight back, they are off their cell phone the next time he walks in.

  6. Anonymous12:33 PM

    Doctors, nurses, and hospitals should serve the patient as their customers; without sick people they would not have a job. However, since there will always be sick people, they will always have job security; so why bother treating patient nicely? There are no incentives to do so. There is already a shortage of doctors because the medical lobbyists made sure this is so.

    The right questions to pose are:

    1. Why is there a cap on the # of doctors coming out of medical school? They know simple economics, more supply = better price = better manners; but why lower their own wages? I would love to have a glut of doctors; but medical lobbyists won't have it! Arguing more = worst quality of care. BULL SHIT!

    2. Practicing medical doctors are not so smart! They just have good memory. They regurgitate known facts and like to call it diagnoses. Put them into a graduate level physics class, they would pee in their pants. If they don't want their patient to use cell phones; they should not answer calls in the middle of a conversation with the current patient; i.e. when you are with a patient, be with the patient 100%. They complain, but I need to save others that are more urgent! Well GET OTHER DOCS to treat them.

    3. They miss charge! You only see the doctor for maximum 5 minutes, they bill you a whole hour. Did they really take 55 minutes to read your chart? I guess we will never know. I have a hunch that if you add all the patients that they saw with the hours they charged, it's more than 24 hours/day? This is clearly fraud!

    Doctors enjoy the prestige they do because of supply and demand. To humble them up, either lower the demand or increase the supply. IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

  7. Anonymous3:28 AM

    There are always exceptions, but in general most doctors do have the God Syndrome and its disgusting. Wish Med School was cheaper that we could increase the supply and decrease the snobbery. Don't they teach you about the basics of doctor-patient interaction anyway?

  8. Anonymous2:12 PM

    There must be a course in med school on how to be rude to patients and their families. Kicking someone when they are already feeling bad must be a skill they need to learn.

    I actually don't care if the doctor is rude, swearing, crass, racist, sexist, homophobic, or a sheep lover...

    All I care is that they are competent but most of the doctors I have seen, in my experience as a patient, are insensitive AND incompetent. Not a good combination. Luckily, I have had the option of leaving and finding better ones, or at least half way competent ones.

    By the way, many of my friends, acquaintances, bosses present and past, coworkers have told me I have an easy going friendly personality. So I don't go on the war path with anyone, nor am I irritating, and don't have an aggressive personality. With doctors, I am never verbose (unlike my comment here) because I respect their time. Too bad most of them don't respect my time or me as a person.

  9. As a practising doctor, I do my best to be polite to my patients. It's in my best interests to be nice to them - after all, happy patients make for happy doctors !

    I am sure there are times when I may appear to be brusque or curt - but I do my best to protect my patients when I am feeling depressed or unhappy, by not venting on them !

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Malpani Infertility Clinic, Jamuna Sagar, SBS Road, Colaba
    Bombay 400 005. India
    Tel: 91-22-22151065, 22151066, 2218 3270
    FAX ( India) 91-22-22150223.

    Helping you to build your family !

    PS Watch our infertility cartoon film at http://www.ivfindia.com

    Read our book, How to Have a Baby - A Guide for the Infertile Couple,
    online at www.DrMalpani.com !

    Read my blog about improving the doctor-patient
    relationship at http://doctorandpatient.blogspot.com/

  10. jomster5:09 PM

    I work at an American managed hospital in the UAE and am intrigued to see the difference between 'our' doctors and 'theirs'.

    My British Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon insists that I address him by his first name. He will have it no other way. Not one of the Indian (or other non-western) doctors will however stand that 'treatment'.

    I've generally observed this to be a cultural thing in fact. My spouse has CKD and is being treated by a Romanian lady doctor here. The compassion that emanates from this lady is genuine. However our nephro in India is another story entirely. He is extremely arrogant and is used to being treated like an emperor. I find it all the more frustrating since I'm used to doctors behaving in an equitable manner with their patients.

    Having experienced American quality care here, I'm used to doctors treating patients like customers, with adequate customer service skills being taught to them by their respective hospitals. They spend time with us, enquire of us and treat us as equally educated people who have chosen other careers; be it building their homes, electrifying them or making mobility a possibility. This level of care is something that is seriously lacking in India.

    From a competitive standpoint, Indian doctors WILL have to learn these skills eventually. The reason is that Eastern people are naturally hospitable, and by Eastern I mean places such as Thailand, Philippines etc. If we have to compete on a global level and attract competition we will have to surmount the problem of our medicos expressing their proclivity of a feeling of superiority.

    But hats off to you Dr. Malpani for a great blog and an even greater topic.

    Thankfully, as more people become doctors, this 'God Syndrome' will possibly wane off.

    In any case, I've warned my doctor sister and her doctor husband that they will not hear me addressing either of them as doctor, but will have to painfully bear me addressing them by their first names. God, how wicked!!

  11. Anonymous6:10 AM

    i have to say the surgeon that i had to go see yesterday had to be the rudest doctor i have ever been to in my life,he talked down to me was nasty,and this guy sure thinks he is GOD i would rather die then step foot in his office again,when a doctor puts his hand in the air when u try to speak ,thats rude especially when he just asked u a question,i should have gone to a vet i was treated like a dog

  12. What a bunch of crying patients on here. I work in an ER. I have had far more patients rude to me than the other way around. I take care of someone who just died, and I walk into the room of someone waiting too long for a sore throat, and they are rude to me. I wonder who is more arrogant. The doctor or the patient. It use to be that patients understood respect for the medical profession. Now, they have been taught by their dead beat parents that their needs are the most important. So, they grow up with a god complex themselves. I was never rude or impolite until I became a doctor and met rude, ignorant patients!!

    1. Anonymous5:23 AM

      Hahaha typical Doctor response that is!! Does it ever occur to you the people in that hospital don't actually want to be there! There is a very horrible environment in hospitals ( my grammar is bad but I don't care!) And most of that is created by the Doctors and consultants, they don't exactly give you the feeling of any kind of reassurance, care or understanding, I can also guarantee that the majority of patients admitted for surgery are absolutely crappin themselves....in walks the consultant makin the patient feel even worse by his lack of bedside manner!! Better off working with those already deceased after all a consultants personality obviously died in training!!

    2. Anonymous10:35 PM

      Not yo be rude, but i needed stitches last night. I went in, and a guy with a toenail that was lifted up went before me, while i had injured my genital area to the point of needing stitches had to wait! And then the numbing hurts...it does. Especially in that area and the doctor was an ass because i jumped back! It HURTS the body is gonna push away! It was rude how he acted. And i dont understand why.

  13. Anonymous6:05 PM

    You want the truth??

    You see they all like to pretend they are GOD, but they know they are only mechanics.


    Yes, after all whats the difference between a Toyota mechanic and a surgeon?

    One has his hands covered in grease the other in blood.

    Personally, if one is rude, tell him, and walk. Its YOUR money.

  14. This has happened to me one too many times since I started working in the acute care setting. I am in the middle of a consultation with a patient and a doctor breezes into the room and interrupts without permission, apology, or acknowledgement of what I am doing. She proceeds to do her own rounds and leaves without an apology or a thank you. It really peeves me because not only am I a medical professional with an advanced degree, I am a person! Being a physician does not excuse poor manners. My time is valuable, too. I would never dream of doing that to a physician, nurse, CNA, or the housekeeping staff! Yes, I am venting! Needed to be done after the day I had today. At least I didn't kill anyone...I think ;).

    1. Anonymous12:27 PM

      I enjoyed your post Kerri. Today I brought my great aunt and uncle to the emerge because he was having abdominal pain and his family doctor wrote a recommendation for a ct scan. He has had past health issues and current ones too. After the pretests were done the doctor came in, asked where it hurts ( the only question asked) my uncle showed the doctor. During this 40 second interaction the doctor is back turned to us starting to walk away. I did get emotional, darn straight. I stood outside our room with tears in my eyes. I saw the doctor and pointed out that we were here for a CT scan. Many people saw us talking. He said he will not issue one because he thinks it's something different and not necessary and the recommendation from family doctor means nothing because he is the doctor here, now. Again walking away as he says this to me. After 3 hours a nurse comes in and preps my uncle for a CT scan.... Somewhere in that 3 hour frame the doctor changed his mind? A couple hours later we were the last patients in the hallway and the doctor comes and says " no changes, no change, I don't know why u have pain" and walked away. I was calm, not expecting anything really. As my uncle changed, I asked a nurse for a paper and pen. I wrote Dr....... I'm sure you are a very busy man and I appreciate your time however it would be nice if you would look at your patients as you talk to them. Have a heart. Folded it and asked her to give the note to him. I understand how busy doctors are they need to have a way to filter what they see and do to stay professional. I get that 110% but I felt every single patient, including my uncles pain tonight and no one should feel that way because of someone else. Thank you for reading and listening

  15. Anonymous9:21 AM

    I had been suffering from prostatitis which includes. erection difficulty , low back pain, loss of feeling in ejaculation , testicle pain and anus pain, chills, night sweats and occasional fever. I saw a total of 6 doctors all urologists. each one accused me it was all in my head and that I did not have an infection and that I was just a hypercondriac.The symptoms were just my own imagination I was told. I suffered for 3 years with this infection and was told by my GP and 4 urologists that it was all in my head. after 3 years of suffering I went to another urologist my 5th one. As soon as I told him my symptoms he told me I had prostatitis and done a prostatic massage and looked at my prostate fluid under a microscope. He came back and told me I had a lot of white blood cells in my prostatic fluid which meant infection. The prostatic fluid sample was sent off to culture and it grew enterococcus. I was prescribed 6 weeks of antibiotics and cured.

    I suffered for 3 years because of a bunch stupid arrogant doctors who thought they knew it all and didn't know crap. yes it is true most doctors aren't worth a crap they are just big headed egotistical morons. but there are a few out there who actually care and try to help

  16. Dr Fred11:45 PM

    I work in a very busy hospital. I am constantly on the run but I make certain that I sit with my patients and explain treatment. Unfortunately, there are plenty of rude and careless doctors here. I don't understand why they became a doctor nor do I think they have the mental qualifications to become a doctor.

  17. Anonymous3:34 PM

    I had a bad experience as well...My relative was very sick, and I along with my relatives sibling went to the doctor to ask about how the tests went. His answer was very rude, and he started to twist our questions around on us. Treated us less then human with his twisted sarcasm.

  18. Anonymous9:25 PM

    I'll agree it's rude to answer your cell and start a conversation with someone on the phone. But this isn't a blog about rude patients, it's about rude doctors and doctors coming on here to vent back just proves more to me that you are rude! My Doctor does the phone thing to me ALL the time. One time when I was telling him about this horrible shooting pain in my side I had the night before, he got a phone call from his wife and they went on for a good 5 minutes talking about the installation of his air conditioning. THAT'S rude. He is always very quick with me, he has me off the chair before I even sit down, and everything I say feels like its not important and a waste of his time. I wish some doctors would take just 60 seconds to be sympathetic to each patient, it would make a world of difference, even if it's just in your tone. Our little common illnesses might not worry most doctors, but WE don't go through that every day either and some little things really put a worry on patients!

  19. Hello Doctor,

    This blog was insightful and has calmed me down a little. this seems legit.

    But some doctors are so rude that they don't even listen to your symptoms. thats leaves the patient anxious and annoyed. My family doc told me to get a biopsy done so i went to this surgeon. the surgeon refused to do it without even checking and said he will do full fledged surgery. Where can we complaint against such doctors in Mumbai, India?

  20. Anonymous9:48 PM

    All those who are non medicos here...u dnt knw a damn abt doctor's lives...hw hard they have to strive..giving up the fun in college life to study abt the diseases so dat they can heal u in future....going on for 48 hrs without sleep...neglecting their own families and friends to save your family members....not getting time to eat cz ur patient's reports had to be readied..Someone's who is nt getting to spend time with family/frnds/spouses, is sleep deprived and inspite of dng all thi... hearing crap frm patients and relatives ...hw can u nt expect thm to b rude

    1. Anonymous1:10 AM

      your sentiments totally shared. cna making minium wage to keep loved one saying how good they look. cna taking the time to do what many family members wont do for their supposed loved ones. cna who has to give up her family, juggle school to attain higher education, and carry the household... in exchange to over hear who is travelling where and when, half the time the cna isnt addressed with a resentful hello.only at the every so stellar time when the diaper is to be changed,that is when the cna is addressed...mom/dad i think needs to be changed. health is no fun in the part. its not an intentional rude, it is the by product of being overwhelmed with decisions . God didnt make the limbic system for us to be deprived of emotions. how the heck can a person therefore not react

  21. Just because doctors work so hard does not give them the right to be rude ! All doctors work equally hard, but not all of them are rude.

    Doctors will find their life much easier if they learn to be nice to their patients - and a smile does not cost anything :)

  22. Anonymous9:53 AM

    There's no excuse for the nastiness of doctors. I was very sick with acute bronchitis and got a steroid shot. Unfortunately the new young nurse shot me near sciatic nerve.
    Needles to say,i was bawling like a baby! I felt sorry for the kid nurse but the indian (?) doctor was so rude!
    My husband called to speak to her to find out what happened and I heard her say ' i'm too busy!!' Really? Then she hustled me out of her medical bay and sent me over to 'urgent care' and never checked on me again!! Who does that?
    She was not responsible for the injection but she showed no caring nor compassion. As far as she knew I could have been paralyzed for life and she'd never know or care? Terrible...

  23. Anonymous3:46 AM

    I had a doctor that told me that if I asked more than four questions on the surgery I was having that he would not do it. He said "either I trust him or I don't" I was breathless after hearing that. He followed that with "Do you have any more questions?"

  24. Hardly a good way of creating trust !

  25. Anonymous4:22 AM

    My brother in law sued an arrogant doctor for negligence and got a pot of money. Many doctors reap what they sow!.

  26. I had to go see foot surgeon who seemed polite initially(obviously just an act to get me to sign the dotted line $$$)as he made me feel like I was inferior, a nobody, a nuisance, stubid and a waste of space! He was arrogant, standoffish or snobbish, spoke to me in a belittling manner and I suspect made the occassional unpleasant or mean remarks about me to his staff at the clinic. I felt so nervous and very uncomfortable when attending the clinic and was very tempted to say or do something, but due to the situation I was now in I couldn't. I did NOT deserve to be judged or treated the was I was by that foot surgeon, he was in NO position to treat me or anyone else that way....think he had a 'I am more superior and better than everyone else, way too good to be associated with the likes of peasants like you complex'...lol

  27. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Today, I took my wife for Ultrasound scan, for pregnancy check. I was so exicted to see the first impression of our child on the Scan monitor. Then, the assistant of doctor, first she put the wet sheet on wife's leg. My wife asked her to get it changed as it was used by previous patient. At first, the assistant ignored. Then I asked her firmly to change it. At this point, the doctor interferred "if you are done with your problem, keep sit on the visitor's chair." My wife and I got pissed off by such shabby arrangement and such a statement by such √ęducated" man. Later, as doctor pointed towards the blinking spot on the screen, which, we were told that it is foetus heart. I tried to come little close to see the blinking spot on the screen, But then, suddenly, doctor shouted rudely "let me do my job. you remain seated." I thought, may be he is interuppted. So I sat quitely. Then i thought taking a photo thru my cellphone, then doctor's assitant shouted, "no photography is allowed". and doctor turned towards me and shouted "Why don't you have patience. Since the time you have entered, you have created nuisance.". My whole good time came to end. he was just at a verge of getting a slap from me. My wife signalled me to keep calm, so as to avoid any argument. At the end, I thought of give him befitting reply, but then, he was doing his job and might have had some other problmes or stresss in his mind, i ignored to reply back over his attitude. Let him have his day. Afterall, he must be knowing he is eating bread because we are paying to him.

  28. Bottom line, physicians are educated individuals who should know better than to take frustrations out on someone that was cause by something or someone unrelated. I am a nurse and I hate my profession every day because of these terrible people. I have given them A chance and told myself they are human, they are stressed or busy but no...I have been called Stupid for things that don't make me stupid, I've been talked to like a child who did something wrong. From my experience most physicians want everyone to feel like shit.

  29. I went to the er yesterday morning. I have been dealing with a rare liver disease since 2008. 2009 left lobe removed. Right lobe is seem pee cholangiogram on 2010,diagnosed with primary slerossi cholangitis. The only cure,hopefully few yrs from now, is a liver transplant. I've be in and out of this hospital dealing with liver abscess. I'm a register nurse, not able to work. My symtoms are being so fatigue,no appetite,(always those three), but many liver pain, chills...
    Anyways my husband took me to the er yesterday, as I was feeling extremely fatique, no appetite, no desire to eat, right upper quad pain. Also I have controlled depression but what happens I go in, things flowing well. Approximately an hour before released. A different doctor comes into see me. He did all the talking, didn't listing to a cotton pickin thing i said. His demeanor, the way he looked at me I felt hopeless,realizing he doesn't care. Because of my no appetite is a common symptom of psc, and as psc is rare, I realized he evidently doesn't know anything about my disease. I wasn't depressed went I came to the er, but what he did was or said to me "You better eat this sandwich and package of crackers, if you don't I'll have you admitted, put a feeding tube in you, then a peg tube". And hurried out of the room never saw him again. I tried a couple bites of sandwich and crackers. 5 minutes later a male nurse l hadn't seen before discharges me. I cried historically, him threatening me was absolutely not called for. Then, I got soooo decourage, my feeling of pulling this biliary drIan from my liver. I felt hopeless,I'm so tired, he belittle me. That's unprofessional! As a former RN I realize there's nothing I can do, but go home and figure what I do next. I'm not at all sucidcital, I want to live, but he destroyed the little bit of motivation I had left. The hospital takes care of the staff, I have seen situations were lawyers talk to doctors and nurses how to resond, act what to say before going to court over this certain situations. By saying that,today I spent time crying, then my husband encourage me to pray for thus doctor, REALLY, we'll I did pray for him. That doctor threatenin me, it has discouraged me. And there's nothing I can do. Symtoms of psc, no appetite, lost of weigh, i wasnt refusing to eat, just wasn't hungry, and normally it picks back up in few days. He was rude. And he did make me consider giving up. Thanks for listening, Debbie



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