Categories: ArticlesDoctor's Voice

Why Doctors Are Losing the Public’s Trust

We discussed this blog post, and more, with Dr. Girgis in a live #PWChat TweetChat at 3:00pm (ET) on November 30, 2017! 


In my mind, the doctor-patient relationship is sancrosanct. There is no relationship where the bond of trust should be so strong, outside of matrimony. As physicians, patients rely on us to help them make life-saving decisions. And we need patients to be honest with us so that we can give the highest quality medical advice. Yet, there has been an erosion in this relationship over recent years. Doctors are no longer held in such high esteem as they were decades ago. Even our own Commander-in-Chief, President Obama, alluded to the fact that doctors have financial incentive to do more surgeries. The public is losing their trust in us. They see us as driven for profit. They feel we don’t listen to their concerns anymore and don’t care what they want or need.

Why has the public lost trust in doctors?

♦  Third parties are often making decisions. For example, they dictate their own formularies, and we often have our hands tied as to what medications we can prescribe. I often have patients ask me for the “strong Stuff.” They don’t realize that doctors are limited in prescribing habits, and we are not withholding the Best medications. But, we are the ones in direct with the patient.

♦  Outlier doctors have been gaming the system. Most doctors truly put patients’ care first, before profit. But, there are a few who inappropriately use their medical degrees for profit. Just look at Dr. Oz trying to get rich promoting weight loss products with no proven benefit. These doctors make us all look bad.

♦  There are many mandates imposed on us that affect patient care. One example is meaningful use. Doctors now have to document many metrics, inputting data into our EHR systems, in order to meet requirements. Patients take this lack of eye-to-eye as a sign that we are more interested in their digital record than them. They feel we are no longer listening to them. They don’t realize that we don’t want to be doing this. It has been opposed on us from on high, and we will be penalized if we don’t.

♦  HMO’s have greatly cut reimbursements to doctors. In order for practices to stay afloat financially, we have to see more patients. We need to find more and more room to see these extra patients if we want to stay afloat. Patients feel this and take it as an indication that we are pushing them through for profit and don’t care about them.

♦  Media tends to portray doctors in a bad light. There are big stories about the pill mill doctors and those arrested for fraud or harassment. There are so many more amazing stories of heroic doctors around than the bad apples. But the press does not give them attention. People rather see the bad than the good. This too tends to paint us all in a negative light.

Medical diseases are becoming more complex, and people are living longer. There has never been a time where patients need to trust their doctors more. All doctors need to remember their oath and put the patient back in center focus. We all need to take a stand against those doctors who are abusing the system for their own gain. Patients need to learn that the vast majority us care about our patients and have their best interests in mind. We all need to become a team again. Patients need to regain our trust, and our profession needs to re-establish its integrity.

Originally posted in Nov. 2015


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Dr. Linda Girgis MD, FAAFP, is a family physician in South River, New Jersey. She holds board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine and is affiliated with St. Peter’s University Hospital and Raritan Bay Hospital. Dr. Girgis earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at Sacred Heart Hospital, through Temple University and she was recognized as intern of the year. Over the course of her practice, Dr. Girgis has continued to earn awards and recognition from her peers and a variety of industry bodies, including: Patients’ Choice Award, 2011-2012, Compassionate Doctor Recognition, 2011-2012. Dr. Girgis’ primary goal as a physician remains ensuring that each of her patients receives the highest available standard of medical care.

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Linda Girgis

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  • FIRST OF ALL I DONT CARE IF I GET BLACKLISTED! I hate doctors! I've web on prednisone since 2000 my last Scots assistant was a fatty hating bully who blamed all my problems asthma, epilepsy, bronchitis on fat, I tried to tell her I dont spend my days stuffing my face with pizza, but she called me a lier & I had a big fight with her in febuary2017 I walked out on her that day for next 2 months I was so depressed was afraid o eat, later that fall I had an epileptic incident & injured my knee, I chose to forgo prescription pain killers didn't want drug addict on my record the pain & stiffness lasted untill june. Durring this time I was having flashbacks & nightmares of his assistant selling at me saying YOU FELL HURT YOUR KNEE BECAUSE YOUR FAT & STUPID! I snapped & left him nasty messages because of the flashbacks & nightmares not to mention I family members accusing me of faking my knee injury I cut myself durring those months but I'm over that now & I'm going to a therapist but I will never trust Doctors again & I don't feel welcome o go to any ER.

  • I went to the hospital last week because my ankle is badly sprained and I wanted to be sure my foot isn’t broken, because it sure feels like it is. I’ve already been to Urgent Care, who did nothing to help whatsoever and only x rayed the ankle. They said the ankle isn’t broken.
    Urgent Care was quite traumatic so it took a few weeks to get up the courage to consider going to another doctor. I only want to know what has happened to my foot as it happened in my sleep.

    So I finally get brave and call 911 as all the doctor offices I called said go to the hospital. Right off the bat I can tell this won’t go well. One of the EMTs saw my foot and said it must be infected. My heart sank, this is an EMT? I had to explain to her that when I stand up the foot gets swollen and hurts more. She was more interested in the boxes on my porch, she wanted to carry them inside my house. I asked if we could please go, the longer I am upright the more my foot swells and the more it hurts. She got upset and said she was just trying to help me “get my shit”, and I just begged them to please get going, I am in a lot of pain.
    Inside the ambulance the other EMT was trying to tie me to the gurney. I pointed out to him that I need the foot elevated to control swelling. He looked at my foot and said it wasn’t that swollen. I was not secured to the gurney at all and had to hold my foot up and hang on as we went around corners and such.
    At the ER I was just put in a waiting room chair at the end of the hallway and ignored.
    They all looked at me funny because I was holding my leg up to keep my foot elevated. I sobbed in pain.
    The x rays were a nightmare with mommy dearest x ray technician screaming at me the whole time. They said it isn’t broken and must be some kind of sprain. My foot is injured in several places, numb, and tingly, and I cannot put any weight on it. I find it hard to believe there isn’t even a hairline fracture with all the pain I am experiencing.
    We don’t trust doctors? You damn right we don’t! Doctors treat us like we are below them because we need help and it’s got to stop. Another commenter said they were worse off when they left the drs office, that is how I feel about my er visit. I felt bad for even going in to ask what is wrong with my foot, like I had really imposed on the hospital my unreasonable will to have my foot treated.
    Until they start leveling with us and telling the truth- screw all the doctors. I, like many, will avoid all doctors and er like the plague and care for myself.
    I’ve been to urgent care and the er and I still can’t walk, still am not sure what my injuries are.

    • I hope you see my comment! It sounds like you had a dislocation and/or partial one. It could be of a joint, several ones, or even of some tendons in your foot!
      I have a connective tissue disorder and joints and tendons randomly sublux in my sleep because muscles relax then, along with the tossing and turning, so I know it can happen. It's very painful, too.
      I've used KT tape on my feet sometimes until it heals...really hope this comment helps you a little bit.

  • I am happy to see this unique blog come up through Doctor’s Voice. The fact is that one bad experience from a reputed doctor is enough to ruin the faith of a patient in the medical stream for life. You have shared some common points that may lead to distrust in the minds of patients.

  • the reason that doctors are hated so much is because they don't listen, because they have a degree they think they know more even when you talk outside their field of study [and are right], and even when it's within their study they really don't diagnose anything.

    All my life, eye-doctors, physical therapists, social therapists, and personal care providers especially have been just extra squeezes looking for pay.

    I've had vision problems since I was young, but rather than being able to identify that one of my eyes had lazy eye, they instead ignored me telling them that most of the time I could see perfectly fine, and they gave me a regular old prescription. Not only did I wear them for 10 years with no real contribution to my eyesight but then when I got older and got in with my father later, I diagnosed that I indeed had lazy eye and it was hereditary. It's not that I expect the doctor to know it's hereditary, but they should know the difference between an eye that is functioning and one that isn't. I have one of each.
    My mom paid 200$ a pair for those and after a while she didn't have money to pay for such expensive eyecare that I kept telling her was useless and I ended up losing because they were uncomfortable. I now have to do the ye old eye-patch treatment as an adult because a doctor couldn't diagnose something that I was describing to them. They wanted to give me the band-aid 1 size fit all treatment and get me out of their office.

    I have weight problems. Same issue. Doctor tells me, a kid who always participated in physical education, always was active, and typically kept their portion size down if they weren't hungry, to 'stop sitting in front of the couch'. Except that I've had acid reflux as a kid and couldn't understand why I woke up in the morning sometimes in coughing fits, going to get a glass of water. I only realized I had acid reflux around 5 years ago, with none of the doctors that I am with even once asking me about symptoms related to acid reflux even though it's a very common issue with those overweight. Instead they test me for diabetes,and high cholesterol like I am just some fat dude who ate alot, is lazy as fuck and knows nothing about nutrition. The same nutrition that these doctors at the FDA approved to lie to Americans about what was best for our health, thus the huge epidemic of obesity the moment they changed the dietary recommendations.

    I've got much more in my life than health problems and while a semi neglectful and abusive past, obvious signs of depression creep in. The answer any psychologist tells me is 'everyone deals with these problems' even when I am struggling with these issues despite being able to express myself. Unless you are a complete mess and shaking infront of them unable to talk not a single doctor will take you seriously, especially a psychologist. I still work through depression because why the fuck would I pay for some medicine to treat it even though it's supposed to be a disability if the doctors and the system that they work for doesn't even want to admit that a person has a problem. And I don't have a regular job, I was blessed with one where I could work on my abusive and dsyfunctional family rather than going to college, lucky me. And this is from someone who passed their state standardized test with advanced scores, making them eligible for a college scholarship, and who has a recorded iq of 141 which back when I was tested was not recognized as genius.

    I really could go on.

    This year I got into an car accident and waited in a hospital for 4 hours suffering pain from the injury and wanted to be seen so I could get an xray and go home. Instead the doctor prescribes me Motrine, an over the counter medicine and basically tells me to fuck off. And no I didn't want the biggest drugs on the market, I just wanted to be looked at for longer than 5 minutes and given the proper procedures people should look for after someone's been in a car accident.

    The reason why nobody trusts you doctors is 100% that you are scumbag quacks in the majority that have to be told how to even treat your patients, when you went to college for this shit and even if you don't know exactly what's going on you should be able to have the ability to know a symptom of discomfort and match that to several diagnosis and then slowly narrow down your treatment from there. I'd rather pay double the copay and double the cost of your time than get a doctor that basically gives me what I can give myself without seeing them. The 1 dollar asprin I can get at dollar tree isn't worth the 3000$ health insurance policy I pay for in a year and previously got penalized for not being able to afford. The lot of you should feel ashamed, from the quacks who pretend to be doctors for a buck and can't use a medical book or website for reference when you hear about this discomfort of your patient, to the schools and professors that say you are qualified to do the job knowing full well you don't give a shit about the people you treat. So much for the oath...

  • They don't do anything, Everytime I go in they just give me a super broad diagnosis and give me the most basic of healthcare. Wasting time doing tests they don't need to instead of actually doing the important ones. And most the time it's the nurses and everyone else doing things. Doctors are nothing more than overpaid nurses.
    We spend billions on healthcare yet our healthcare system is horrible.

    And the entire opiate epidemic is 100% doctors fault. Just like how they were over prescribing ADHD meds to kids who are bored in school instead of pushing them forward so they can actually learn instead of sit around doing nothing.

  • Doctors are only in the business of keeping people sick. They are nothing but dirtbags with degrees. Get over yourselves. Nobody is impressed just because you went to school for a long time.

  • Doctors have lost public trust because they have become businessmen, living in pockets of different pharma companies, prescribing unnecessary pills left right center and worrying about their rich boy mansions, they care two hoots about patients. My dad had simple tendonitis and his doctor, a very famous one at that, prescribed an arthroscopy for that! Seriously?! My mother had a meniscus tear in right leg 2 years ago and another doctor, a fairly well known orthopedic surgeon in our city, asked her to undergo total knee replacement, that too on both legs!!!

    Another time, about 4 years ago, my dad had bleeding gum issues and 2 different dentists he saw asked him to undergo a root canal! (He used basic salt water gargling technique to soothe the gums and has all his teeth intact today, no root canal needed)

    My Dear Lord! I have dozens of such instances popping up in my family as well as my friends keep filling me in with all of their own horror stories with respect to different 'doctors' who keep prescribing unnecessary tests and surgeries to fill in their own pockets.

    Where is the basic kindness, empathy that is expected from a doctor towards a patient? Where is the simple act of putting patients first and trying to understand their problems? Where is honest communication about causes and possible solution for a disease/condition? Rude, arrogant and blood sucking businessmen, that is what medical profession is filled with, and then they complain about how they don't get no trust?!!!

  • Doctors are overpaid. If we lower their pay to a teacher’s salary, but make the education free IF and only IF you get a 3.8 or higher, we would see a huge improvement in health care. Doctors are self absorbed, ego monsters and we pay them to be that way. No one “practicing” anything should be paid a fortune. Doctors should make the exact same money as teachers and cops.

  • I'm 61 years old and my long time physician retired about 6 years ago. A new group absorbed his patient load. My new doctor was much younger and his care for me was exceptional. But he found family practice dull and moved into the more exciting ER and pro-sports medicine.
    So last year I began a search for new Primary Care physician.
    I live in a major metropolitan area but I found it extremely difficult to find a doctor that was accepting new patients. Once I found a doctor I immediately made an appointment to establish a relationship. One thing that struck me was that they seemed overly interested in my mental health. The nurse asked me questions from several angles to access my state of mind. And when the doctor finally came in he began the same routine. I got the impression they were looking for reasons to prescribe depression medication.
    Days later, with a group of friends, I described what happened and 2 others in the group said their new doctors did the same thing.
    I've never suffered from major, or even minor, depression so I have no history of it.
    I think these new docs are looking to make extra money by pushing pills. Which I find disgusting.
    My only health issue is minor hypertension, which generic medication keeps well regulated.
    Geez I miss my old doctor.

    • There is a medicare program called MIPS that makes you document things that are supposed to improve patient care. Unfortunately there are only so many topics to choose from. I have been forced to use is screen everyone in my office for depression with a depression scale that isn't that good in my opinion. I don't want to do this but I have to if I want to see patients with medicare. I don't think they are pushing pills they are just trying to meet these silly medicare requirements. Try to ignore all the weird questions if you can.

  • Thanks for your article! I have read through some similar topics! However, your post has given me a very special impression, unlike other posts

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