A doctor and a patient have backs facing each other, arms crossed, looking opposite ways. Doctor patient relationship, not being taken seriously, bad doctor

Burning Bridges

What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive. Though this quote may not be exactly where I’m going, there is a tangled mess when we deal with doctors and burning bridges. When I was in corporate, 'burning bridges' was a phrase people loved throwing around, whether in the midst of a disagreement with vendors, HR, managers, fellow co-workers, etc. So what does it mean and where does it fall in relation to when we speak about how our care is managed and the shakey road a patient walks when working with their doctor or medical team?

Burning bridges

The phrase 'burning bridges' means doing something which forces you to continue with a particular course of action, and makes it impossible for you to return to an earlier situation or relationship.

It can be rather awkward depending on a doctor who you totally wrote off, but what happens if you have to refer back to this individual, who may hold key to treatment in some way or another? I know losing face is not a pleasant feeling. I recall my main doctor tried to filter down his team with his existing patients. I automatically was armed with my filters of not liking this new person. Actually, I was right in my assumption as he was rather rude, and I think after a few appointments I believe I asked for my original doctor to continue treating me.

Now many years later, I’ve been told this same doctor is the best in myeloma care at this particular facility. So did I burn bridges? I won’t say I burned bridges, but as a patient, I was vocal as to who I wanted treatment with, and believe it or not, we do have the right to do so. In blood cancer, if we can get it, we always want the best care and person to do the job, in this case, maybe this doctor has become seasoned in presenting a better bedside manner, or not. I know in that space and time that was the best decision for me.

Our medical teams can be a mixed bag

I’ve said this before, there can be a mixed bag in personalities whether patients or medical team. We’re all human and sometimes we all may not like each other - period. Though we get a doctor or nurse in that first meeting, in no way does that mean we have to stick with these people, hence getting a second opinion may prove to be valuable, however, this is a little different then a doctor giving their opinion on your care and treatment. What if the personality is not there?

Some doctors do better than others, where they have the full package in compassion and empathy, whereas, others may not have that. So what do we do if we don’t want to necessarily burn bridges with these sets of doctors?

Let the doctor know that you don’t think this is a right fit, nothing against their expertise, but this doesn’t work for you. Don’t feel guilty in looking elsewhere.

Is it alright to come back?

What if you don’t find the same care elsewhere, is it okay to come back? Well having that open conversation that things didn’t work out the first go, but can we relook at this partnership, as you’re serious about your care and believe this person can get you where you need to be.

I also say there are many doctors out there that do have the full package, so never feel you have to settle for the subpar, whether the bridge was burned or not.

 The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it.

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