Thursday, September 30, 2004

You Can't Teach An Old Doc New Tricks

Can we teach the medical profession new tricks? How much longer will society tolerate high-handed attitudes from doctors who seem to forget they didn't invent the human body, medical science is still young, incomplete and therefore on occasion the benefit of the doubt or an admission of "We don't know" is not failure, but honesty? My body is mine and mine alone - I wish I'd never let glory hunting fiends muck it up to see what happens if you chop off a bit here and stick it on there.

I'm totally incredulous that now things are going up the swannee again, trying to get some support is such an uphill struggle. If I could go back a few years I'd tell my younger self not to believe them so readily. And just when you think it's all over, oops, here we go again.

I recently went to see the local orthopaedic consultant at my local hospital. Several years ago he referred me to another hospital for surgery. The operation wasn't a great success and now my local hospital is looking to farm me out somewhere else so somebody unattached to my district can take on the case once again.

All this despite my real wishes, which are to have the cause of this particular complication fully understood prior to any decisions on treatment (as they indeed admit it is not, as yet) and only to have more surgery as a last resort if there are no other credible options left.

Despite my expressing this clearly at each consultation - assuming it to be understood, on obtaining copies of the consultation letters to my GP (which are being sent out to other clinics who may take my case on), I find these mention surgery alone with no mention of my wishes to be more conservative if the situation allows. None at all mention I do not wish to proceed any further without being fully informed of the underlying features which have lead to present circumstances.

Great, innit? My local hospital guy's views went something like this;

"I realised yours was a complex case, and my intervention would probably have b*gg*r*d you up. So I send you to ***** ***** and he b*gg*r*d you up instead. I'm glad he did it and not me, that's why I referred you to him!
You were probably better off not having surgery in the first place, patients with genetic problems like yours are now discovering surgery simply gives them a different set of problems to contend with."

Tell me about it.

But the trouble is, if this is my opinion, I am an un-enlightened loon, despite being the poor sod living with the results of their more 'enlightened' intervention.

As a patient I begin to wish the medical profession would get a shake up from somewhere, although I would prefer respect for changing needs of the patient and not politicians ideals to be the driving force behind this.

In the current state, you take the advice of one, only to have another admit after the event it was a bad idea. But you can't act on that, because it's only *opinion*. In many other areas of life this is simply not the case anymore. At present I'm sure medicine regards itself as more than a service industry, but the time when doctors could shroud their profession in mystery has long passed. The patients just aren't compliant anymore.

Try questioning your doctor over any uncertainties in your condition. Getting him to admit there are things he cannot answer and chances are he will get most uncomfortable. This is what I cannot understand about the medical profession - we all know doctors did not invent the human body, nor is medical science a complete science. Yet some 'esteemed' doctors have great trouble remembering this, likely not with good grace either. Patients today are not the patients that perhaps the profession is really trained to treat. Yet this affectation is one that I understand is largely traditional - if the patient questions too closely, they are likely to be put in their place.

It doesn't help with politicians striding into the melee, but unless the medical profession responds to the fact it is, whether higher ideals are attached to it or not, there to serve people, then surely a practice overhaul of some sort is long overdue?


Zen Angel said...

I relate to this entry 100%, having had a not-so-pleasant week of encounters with various doctors. My husband calls it "Tin God Syndrome." Doctors are used to being "Tin Gods," unquestionably smarter, better informed and able to make decisions that the hapless patients they are supposed to be treating. I can only hope it goes the way of dinosaur, and the attitude will soon be, happily extinct.

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