A couple of months ago I asked this question on Facebook and Twitter:
Given a choice between a specialist who u could see quickly but with poor bedside manner, or one who was nicer but you had to wait, which??
Most people voted for waiting longer for the better doctor, and a few said to get the quick appointment as long as the doctor was medically competent. I had asked my referring doctor whether both choices would give me good care, and she assured me that they were both just fine as physicians, but that the one with the shorter wait list had a reputation for having a bad bedside manner. Her patients had said that he could be very abrupt and unfriendly.
I should clarify that my reason for seeing this specialist was very minor, and not something that I was anxious about. If it were something serious, or requiring longer term follow-up, my decision may well have been different, but I decided to go with the quicker appointment with the abrupt physician. Interestingly I still had to wait two months to see this doctor, who had the shortest waiting list of all of the specialists available. I wonder how long it would have taken to see the best of the best?
I did go to ratemds.com to do a little bit of extra research. If you aren’t familiar with this website, you can look up physicians and find reviews of them written by patients. I take these reviews with a grain of salt, but if there were a serious problem, it would probably be evident here. The reviews were mixed. A lot of people strongly disliked him and said that they had felt rushed, and that he had been, well, abrupt. But some others had just loved him. No one said that he was medically not competent in any way, and so I was just fine with my decision.
Finally my appointment came. He was on time, introduced himself nicely, shook my hand, made sure we were sitting on the same level and facing each other. He went through everything, answered all my questions, provided some extra options that my family doctor hadn’t offered, and then went on from there. I thought he was great. Courteous and professional. He seemed fairly kind as well and I think I would have been fine with him even if it were something more serious.
I do wonder if this doctor learned of his reputation and changed his ways. Or is every patient just so different that they need different things from their doctor? Maybe this physician has good days and bad days, like the rest of us, but the impact of his bad days would be more significant to a worried patient, than say my bad day would be on the government workers that surround me in my job.
It’s hard to say, but I was pretty happy with how it worked out.