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 contact 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 contact 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

View Comments

  • When I went to the doctor for a check up, as I was worried that I was wheezing, she told me I was fat and had asthma. I went home & soon figured out I'm allergic to strawberries and as soon as I stopped eating them, my wheezing cleared. That was $1200. I must have seen her for 15 minutes. Had some blood drawn, weighed, chatted for no more than 2-3 minutes. $1200. Now that I haven't paid that, I can't go back right?

  • This is really very disturbing that many people consider Doctor as a GOD who gives them life..But because of some Doctors the whole community loosing the public trust..many people thought that Doctors nowadays only looting their money..they only suggest non affordable operations..But this is really very disturbing fact..
    Thank you for discussing this sensible topic on this big platform..

  • My problem is i don't have any money or help to see a doctor I can't get Medicaid because my fiance gets a disability check from social security and Medicare and my kids get a social security check because of their dad and my kids get Medicaid and i don't get nothing I'm only fixing to be 36 on December 29th 2018 and I don't know what to do or where to go and I have been told by some higher ups that it's illegal for Medicaid and other places like that to use my fiance's income for the fact we are not legally married but they still insist that they can this is confusing to me and it makes think that someone is trying to do an experiment on me to see how long a person can live without being seen by a doctor because I really have seen a doctor since i had my son wech is 10 because i had Medicaid at the I need glasses and I have a bad back and bad knees and bad ankles and i have major depressive disorder and i can't get what I need I owe so much i hospital bills and i have been told I qualify for a social security check but when i tried and they keep telling me that there's too much income in the household because of my fiance and are kids but what has me confused is if there's too much income in the household why do they keep getting a raise in their checks from social security?!!!! And right now my fiance hurt his Achilles tendon and the retarded dumb founded doctor doesn't want to give my fiance anything for the pain this is abuse

  • Come on man, this is just stupid rah rah talk about how doctors have it hard, yearning for the time when they are holier than thou and beyond reproach. Such as waste of space

  • All medicine is about today is profit, long gone are the days when there was personalized, human, friendly care, and all for very little money. Now it is prohibitively expensive, as most doctors resort to that vile, evil practice of sending you from one doctor to another, before back to them, so all get their share. Like a nasty mafia.

  • Siela,
    Your advice is hogwash. Cancer is real, not a hoax. I have seen cancer cells (malignancies) under the microscope myself, and I saw them being removed from a patient.

  • I am suffering from some digestive issues. I had to go to 6 Gastroenterologist and all they do is keep recording some stuff , not sure if they are listening to my issues. And they gave me high dose of antibiotics to treat my infection, without educating me abt the side effects and what to do abt it. For past 5 months I suffered at their hands. Non stop MRI’s , Ultra sound, it took 6 GI’s to tell me what is in my report and that too was not accurate. And aft my endoscopy was done , it showed my infection was gone. But still I was experiencing pain and similar symptoms. The. I did my own research and got stool
    Test done and it showed positive. When I wrote an email to the doc who did the endoscopy, he replied aft 10 days saying , “ Thanks for the update “ and then when I consulted a reputed GI , hebwaa more worse, he saw 3 Patients in 20 mins or so whenhe was supposed to see me. And he just spent 1 min time with me and when I asked why my endoscopy showed neg and stool test showed pos. He bluntly says couple of times “
    I DONT KNOW” I was stressed out scared if he does not know then who will know. Anyways he treated me like a customer and he a top knotch business man that I don’t five him good buss so I am waste customer to him and his reputated hospital. Then I star e seeing a hollistic doc who did listen and healing me , and for past few weeks getting better. Tho long way to go as the GI’ have damaged my system . I hate them what they did to me . I curse them.

  • It is reassuring to know that a family doctor is someone to be trusted. This is nice to know since it is true that there are heroic doctors out there. My sister would love having this reassurance since she is looking for a family doctor in the new area she moved to.

  • It's pretty simple.

    You make patients wait. You don't really listen. You work your dumbass algorithm. You aren't particularly empathetic. You recite some rote bullcrap about exercise and mindfulness. And you finish it up with exactly no feedback on what your thoughts are on the diagnosis and treatment.

    Then we pay tons of money. And if you have anything outside of the norm, you'll still be waiting to find out what it is for 2 years. I diagnosed my own disease. I still can't find anyone who can help me get my voice back.

    It is killing me to lose faith in you. But I have.

  • 1. A lot of Doctors think they know your body better than you do. They are arrogant and egotistical. Their 7 years of med school, often their private school and elitest family background they have grown up being told by their family they are better than you. So of course when they see a patient they think they are god and superior.
    Note to doctors; you aren't.

    2. Social media and Google searches mean patients can do a lot of research before seeing a doctor. I often go into an appt and can rattle research off that talks about new treatment methods the GP hasn't even heard of! We need to stop being so reliant on doctors, they are human and fallible and we need to own our own health regime. The doctor is an expert but not a know it all. Walk away from any doctor who acts like they are; if you don't they are putting you at an elevated level of health risk.

    3. Doctors ARE money driven.they often seek to become senior medical consultants because when they get to that point they charge a heap more and do less. A doctor working in an ER at a hospital is paid ok but does huge hours. So they are mostly all trying to climb up higher where there is more specialisation and more money. A doctor is not immune to greed and the desire for wealth. If a doctor's salary was 50 K a year imagine how many current doctors would be doing something else more financially rewarding. Most of them!

    I no longer trust doctors. They are there to take my money. Ask for constant repeat referrals. They don't listen to me as a patient. They don't try and fault find. They Lazer focus on one or two symptoms them brush you off.

    You as the patient know your body and what normal feels like for your body far better than ANY doctor. You live in your body. You know it. A doctor doesn't. Particularly not one who spends no or very little time to try understand it.

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