Quick Poll: How responsive is your doctor?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2014-04-13 21:06:15 -0500
Started 2014-04-03 23:20:25 -0500

So often, clients will say something like, “My doctor promised to leave me a message with my test results yesterday… but I didn’t hear back.” Or, “Her staff said she would follow up with me after lunch… but nope.”

And often the word “promise” is in there someplace.

Has your doctor ever promised to get back to you and then didn’t? Or, maybe a better question might be: Does your doctor ever get back to you when he/she promises?

Sure, everybody has good intentions. And doctors are certainly busy people. But still… a promise is a promise. Or at least it sounded like a promise. And you’re the one waiting on test results. Or a prescription. Or an answer to a question.

Here’s a link to an article I posted awhile back:


Communication between you and your doctor is a two-way process. Sometimes with some rough spots along the way.

Having said that, it also seems to me that as the healthcare system evolves, patients are finding that they have to modify their expectations of what their healthcare providers can and can’t do in terms of follow-up. Maybe things are just changing and us patients have to learn to go with the flow… and be willing to be the squeaky wheel.

What do you do when your doctor doesn’t get back to you as promised?

Is your response different, depending on the situation?

Has a call not returned every resulted in a crisis, or a potential crisis?

Or have you learned that a promises is not always a promise?

I’m all ears (eyes)!

49 replies

Mindy82 2014-04-11 16:49:08 -0500 Report

I remember a Dr I had when I was 17/18. I had discovered (by mistake) that I couldn't take my insulin's too close together ( within 4 hours of each other). So when I visited the Dr, I showed him IN BLACK AND WHITE what I'd discovered and he agreed. Then he changes the type of insulin I was on from R and NPH (old school I know lol) to 75/25 without telling me it was a premix. I tried it for 2 weeks. It was a disaster. Every time I turned around, I was dropping into the 20-40s( between meals after meals, you name it). So I thought maybe my body is still trying to adjust, give it a full 30 days. I did. It still dropped me, so finally I asked my mom to take me to the er, as I was in the middle of a nasty low. When we got in, I asked for that Dr. He walked in, and when he saw how low I was, asked why I was so low and for how long.
I looked him in the eye and reminded him of what mixing my insulin's did to me, telling him he was fired for KNOWINGLY putting me on the premix. Then I threw the bottle at his feet, smashing it. Then my mom and I went out for breakfast

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-11 21:04:39 -0500 Report

Hi Mindy,

Wow, what an experience. That was an oversight that really left you at risk. I hope you found your way to someone who listens, keeps records, and reviews the records when making a decision.

Thanks for letting us know about this.


Stuart1966 2014-04-10 22:09:41 -0500 Report

Doctor i wasnt calling to ask about your new nails. Needed a scrjpt called in because the glass vial got smashed to bits. Used the word emergency when i left the message. Been 3 days since i first called. Will you call it in right now?

They are a business run amok. We suffer them because we must and have no other choice.

Once they do so they are fired contented grim look

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-11 21:06:37 -0500 Report

Hey Stuart,

Incredible. Three days and nothing? Patients really have to be their own advocates. And I know what you mean, no other choice.


haoleboy 2014-04-08 22:41:08 -0500 Report

I have an interesting relationship with the Physicians Assistant that acts as my Primary Care … I ask for certain labs and referrals to specialists and she obliges.
My guess is I am asking for all the right things … or she's not very good at her job. As my 'numbers' are all good I'll assume the former.


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-09 09:11:29 -0500 Report

HI Steve,

I also see a physician's assistant, and this has been a good experience. But you make a good point about how important it is for patients to take a management role in their healthcare, and not assuming that their provider is on top of everything.



valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-04-08 14:45:53 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary; Nana D76's story was truly a good one as many of the other posts I read. I have a great relationship with my Dr. He minds his own business, gives me my 'scrips and leaves the rest to his Nurse. I direct everything to her. As an example, when told me I was diabetic he just handed me a meter, strips, and sliding scale, along with some samples of medication. Told me to come back in 2 weeks and left the room. When his Nurse came in she explained all to me and how to use the meter, how many times per day to use it and so on. I just treat him indifferently…he gives me what I want, the Nurse gives me what I need. She keeps her promises, that's what matters to me. Thanks for listening.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-08 22:28:19 -0500 Report

Hi valentine lady,

Thanks so much for sharing this. Sounds like your doctor and his nurse are bad cop/good cop. I am glad she is stepping up to the plate and giving patients the education and support they need. I am glad to hear somebody is at that practice!


Nana D76
Nana D76 2014-04-07 10:53:39 -0500 Report

Mine is a very funny story…much like a small storm… I after much denial I did have type 2.. After asking my Dr. Many ? Decided pills where not in my future with out the old college try. She was quite put out that I refused pills. After asking four times during appt. I said is there not any other way? She responded with well diet and exercise. I replied ok how much and give me some time..she chuckled and said… Well you will fail and be back here taking this pill. Not in so many words but it was obvious she didn't know me… After 30 lbs I received a call…how are you doing? I said great and how is your diet going? … Ah what? How is your died going? I know you said it's a hard thing to do but we all stand to loose some weight so how is yours going? Chuckle…Ty I will start tomorrow… Down 57 lbs. Numbers well within perfect range and upon yr apt. An apology from my Dr. No pills, shots, and I started a blog called Cheating Diabetes to boot… Never give up on your self…

jayabee52 2014-04-08 15:00:35 -0500 Report

I tried to google "cheating diabetes blog" but couldn't find your blog

Please give the url of your blog?

jayabee52 2014-04-07 14:12:27 -0500 Report

WTG Nana!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-07 17:44:14 -0500 Report

Hi Nana,

I am with James on this one. Way to go!!!

This is a great story. You had a goal and you made it happen. Your doctor may be coming to you for diet and exercise advice.

Thanks for sharing this with us. You are an inspiration!


msann 2014-04-05 17:05:22 -0500 Report

hi dr gary I am glad to say I have very good dr me and hubby been with him 9 yrs both of us are diabetic and we have diabetic educator also doctor before was not up to date !!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:10:44 -0500 Report

Hey msann,

Great to run into you here! I am glad you have a good, responsive doctor. That's important. And a diabetic educator also has so much to offer. That's excellent.

Thanks for sharing this.


Anonymous 2014-04-04 21:39:58 -0500 Report

I started with my doctor about seven months ago after not having been to the doctor for over 10 years. Based on the blood work, I discovered I had diabetes. My diabetic education consisted of him handing me a glucose meter, test strips and drug samples. Nothing was said other than you have diabetes. He has changed my meds several times but says very little.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:09:50 -0500 Report


I am sorry to hear your doctor is such a poor communicator. That's not a good thing for patients with chronic conditions, especially conditions like diabetes that require a lot of ongoing monitoring and self-care. The relationship needs to be two-way.

This might be something to bring up with your doctor. Certainly, it's a good idea to bring a list of questions so that you can be as informed as possible. If he doesn't offer information, then he may need to be grilled by you. Or talk more with his nursing staff if they can be helpful at all.

Take good care of yourself.


Fairlawngirl 2014-04-04 20:48:08 -0500 Report

I have MANY ups and downs. Difficulty to figure out. I count carbs like crazy. This PMj, my sugar was 43! After my work out in the 200 range! I continue to down load my pump stats about every two weeks. I check at least 4 sugars a day. Up to 7 on some days! Communication is on line. I have been difficult to manage. I carry my glucometer, dextrotabs, etc. Oh well. Have you interacted with such folks that attempt good coverage, yet have these problems. Of course, going out, I try to eat as healthy as I can. But even with home meals, of the very same things-I am up and down.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:07:07 -0500 Report

Hi Fairlawngirl!

It's great to see you. It has been a long time since we have been in touch.

Managing those numbers can be such a challenge. And frustrating. I hope you are working closely with your doctor, and going over those pump stats with him/her. If your doctor's office isn't following up with you on this, it might be time to make an appointment.


lorene1212 2014-04-04 16:58:24 -0500 Report

Have had 1 very bad doctor which was the one that told me I was HIV. On the Phone with a neighbors sick child screaming and crying and knowing I was under duress, tells me I have Hiv. This was on a Monday at 9:30am! That is why I got a new doctor and also reported him to the board.
I have had 2 great doctors. I started with 1 and went to the other.. They both know each other. The doctor I left him to go to was above him and they knew each other quite well even played tennis. Any way, Now I am going back to number 1 dr. cause he is closer.. which is good. When I have an issue, response has been great. Never the less the doctor I am leaving had hip replacement a yr. and a half ago and I have been waiting for his return. He is not coming back so I am scheduling with the dr. I was seeing before him…lol
Okay later…ha hah

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:04:49 -0500 Report


Hello, my friend! I have to say that is a pretty insensitive way to tell a patient they are HIV+. I would have hoped you would have been called in for a conference, not just told over the phone as if you had been diagnosed with a cold. Really amazing.

It's hard to be passed from one doctor to the next when it's not our choice. I hope you are able to get the care you need.

Thanks for sharing this.


Kats49 2014-04-04 16:50:26 -0500 Report

I am blessed to not only have an EXCELLENT doctor, but we are also friends. She has us self address a stamped envelope, right after the blood work. It is then sent to us…easy peasy. She requires me to call whenever I am put on steroids, so we can work on a game plan together. She ALWAYS returns phone calls in a crisis situation. But since I am well managed, haven't had to do any of those. She is a board certified endocrinologist, top in her field in Colorado.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:01:35 -0500 Report

Hi Kats!

Wow, you are certainly truly blessed. She sounds like a really patient-focused doctor, lots of concern, and no attitude. What a find.


camerashy 2014-04-04 14:04:27 -0500 Report

My doctors don't make promises. If I need something, I call his nurse.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 23:00:19 -0500 Report

Hey camerashy, that's a good idea. Nurses are often more responsive, and can add that can step in and speak on the doctor's behalf. And they know a whole lot, too! Gary

GabbyPA 2014-04-04 13:12:37 -0500 Report

I guess I have never even considered having my doctor follow up with me, as he only deals with me at the clinic.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:58:27 -0500 Report

Hi Gabby, it sounds like you have adjusted your expectations according to what is realistic. That's always a good idea where doctors are concerned.

Pastor Bruce
Pastor Bruce 2014-04-04 12:00:36 -0500 Report

Someone from my doctor's office always calls me if there is anything important. Once I had a spot on my lungs and could not see my doctor and had to go to one of his associates. The associate doctor never called me back to let me know if I had cancer or not (thank God it was not.) My doctor chewed out his associate and told him to never let any patient wait on such information. I am very satisfied with my present doctor!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:54:54 -0500 Report

Hello Pastor Bruce,

Always good to see you here.

Glad to see your doctor is on the case, and even advocating for you when another doctor doesn't do the job right. As it should be, but isn't always. I can see why you're satisfied.


Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-04-04 10:45:36 -0500 Report

I ordered my Metformin via computer as always, 5 days ago before I run out, I had enough for a week so I thought that would be good timing because it was needing a new script from my doctor. It has been 4 days and still no refill, I called the drug store and they are still waiting on approval, so I called my doctors office and left a detailed message at the nurses station yesterday (and I was very nice and tactful). They haven't called back and I still have no refill called in. I rarely get a quick response, and sometimes no response, but they usually send in refill request with in 72hrs. at the latest. When I was down with an infection 3 weeks ago, I gave up and went in to my doctors emergency clinic and got some antibiotics from who was on call that day.
I guess I will have to do that this time just to get my metformin. ( Sorry for ranting )!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:53:22 -0500 Report

Hey Trudie Ann,

It's great to see you again.

Wow, that is quite a story. Really sorry to hear you went through this. I can only guess at how frustrating it must have been, not to mention the stress it caused.

Sometimes "it is what it is" is the best way to look at situations like this, especially if you already have the best doctor available. If this is the way the doctor's office works, then you may want to start going with the flow and just asking a few days earlier, to allow for the delayed response. At least with the prescription refills.

As for the infection, that's really not good.

You might want to address this with you doctor. Let him/her know how you feel when you can't get a response in a reasonable time, and how this places your health at risk. See if you can work out a way to work together better.

Thanks for sharing this! And stay in touch.


Kats49 2014-04-04 17:02:37 -0500 Report

time to get a new doctor and report them to your insurance company

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-04-05 12:51:23 -0500 Report

I finally have my refill and just barely in time. I think when I get down to 2 weeks left I will order more next time. My insurance won't refill any earlier than a week but maybe the refill order from the doctor will get there by then. I have been checking around the other doctors in my ins. network, but it looks like I have the best one. I do finally have an appointment with an Endo in the next state over in June, maybe they will help with refills, and I also have a lot of questions to ask them.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-04-04 10:15:50 -0500 Report

I get a letter as part of the clinics operating procedure. Then either the doctor or his nurse will call. If your doctor has not called you back, call the doctor and keep calling until he/she returns your call. I always had to call my moms doctor for test results. It helps to be proactive in your health care. Being reactive is not going to help you. Getting upset and complaining to everyone but the doctor does not help you in getting your results. Tell your doctor if he makes a promise you expect him/her to keep it. If the promise is not kept, address that at your next visit. I have never understood why people ask "should I call my doctor" for medical problems they are having. The doctors work for you of course you call them.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:48:28 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce!

You bring up a really good point here. Doctors are busy and, busy or not, they are not always responsive. So if you haven't heard back, just give the office a call. Repeatedly if you have to. And then address it with the doctor. We have to advocate for ourselves.


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-04-06 15:17:23 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, for some reason people think they are their doctors only patient and expect the call to come the second he gets the results. If people do not advocate for themselves, they may not get what they want or need. Leaving a doctor because he didn't call you right away isn't going to help the situation. What are you going to do, keep changing doctors because he didn't call right away with the results.

Dr. Gary I have given up on trying to figure people out. The one thing I have learned from people is that those who complain about everything to everyone, rarely go to the source of the complaint to fix the problem. I guess that is why so many people are stressed out and frustrated.

whitmant 2014-04-04 09:57:41 -0500 Report

I have found I have to do my own calling my Dr. back. I realize I'm not her only patient. Usually when I email her she does get back to me within 12 hrs. But as far as her getting back to me by phone real fast, it's usually her nurse that does that unless it's something extremely urgent then she will call me directly.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:45:42 -0500 Report

Hey whitmant,

Good to meet you. I have had the same experience, but it's smart to take the initiative rather than waiting and waiting. Always nice when the nursing staff is responsive.


robertoj 2014-04-04 01:43:26 -0500 Report

I'm in the process of finding a new doctor. After losing my responsive doctor due to my insurance dropping me (pre ACA). The next insurance had only one doctor anywhere close and his lack of faith in the insurance indicated that his hands were tied and so his response was limited. My new coverage isn't limited.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:44:00 -0500 Report

Hey Roberto,

Great to see you! It's always sad to hear when someone has to part ways with a doctor they have a good relationship with. I am hoping that the new insurance will help you get to doctor you can work with.


diabeticdummy 2014-04-04 00:51:26 -0500 Report

All my dr. Say they or the nurse will get back to me but they also say if you haven't heard from someone by say noon tomorrow call us if I have a question or a need I call leave a message and they do call me back pretty quick now to that I have no problem firing a doctor or specialist if they are not working with me or for me I research all my doctors extensively online searches calling my insurance company and asking how they treat patients I.e complaints etc. I talk to patients I'm the office to hear there stories and I go into dr. With a notebook of questions not to many if they try to speed things up or ignore me or pawn me off with out answering my concerns I dump them if I'm wasting there time my health is not a big concern to them just after a paycheck from my ins company maybe I'm picky maybe an a$& but it's my life and health
P.s. If they just wanna throw pills at me with out tests or back ground info I walk out I have had some poor poor dr visits but got rid of them I have out together a team that satisfies me on every way and my health is getting better finally also I ask the doctors I really like for referrals cause they have friends and usually consult with like minded dr. My current health problems diabetes almost two years and sever complications that go with it they bend over backwards for me to get me into tests and procedures even my insurance company has a nurse service that calls me weekly to check on me and my doctors

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-05 22:42:36 -0500 Report

Hi diabeticdummy,

Nice to meet you. You certainly don't seem like a dummy in any way to me.

It sounds like you are an empowered medical consumer, taking good care of yourself and demanding that your healthcare professionals do the same. Patients really have to be their own advocates.

Thanks for checking in.


diabeticdummy 2014-04-05 23:45:55 -0500 Report

Yes when I was first diagnosed read everyone's horror stories of dr was not going to let that happen to me my pc dr diagnosed me put me on metformin and lantus gave me a meter showed me how to use it and told me he's not an expert on diabetes and refers me to endo then followed up with me after I met her he is good dr visits me every time in hospital since diagnosed wich has been seven times and three looking at fourth surgery my t2 has been quick onset and very very aggressive but finally getting it under control

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-04-06 21:44:26 -0500 Report

Hi! Thanks a lot for following up and letting me know more about what's going on in your life. Wow, you have really been through a lot. I am glad you are getting good medical care from attentive doctors. And glad you are getting the diabetes under control. It's really good to be in touch with you, my friend.