Thursday, December 5, 2013

Medical Musings

Recently, I have lived through two completely unnecessary medical dramas. A coworker, and then a family member—in the span of a month—both got the word from their doctor that they had to rush to the hospital to be tested for cancer. In both cases they had symptoms that had them thinking they were sick with something non-life-threatening, and in both cases their own suspicions/self-diagnoses were accurate. It was the doctors who were wrong.

Now this is the sort of experience that can have terribly damaging repercussions. It is what leads people to investigate their symptoms online and hazard a guess instead of trusting the experts, but it is the experts that are causing the problem by (a) not doing a good job reading the problem and (b) causing a panic by using the “C” word before they have a good reason to do so.

And really, it is high time we adjusted our expectations and approaches to health issues in the information age we live in. If someone has a modicum of education and reputable places to go for information online, we should add our own judgment into our medical evaluation. I cannot count the amount of times when I have had to make a choice whether to take a kid to a doctor or wait out what appeared to be an untreatable sickness that simply had to run its course. In most cases I waited and was right; in others things seemed so bad I erred on the side of caution and merely got a confirmation of what I already knew in my gut.

Or, maybe I have simply been blessed with healthy kids.

But I have had more than one doctor complain to me in confidence that many parents are too quick to rush to the professional. Some simply because their kid won’t stop crying.

In any case, things are not helped when we encounter so much incompetence in the profession all around the world. It probably all amounts to a case of false expectations. We don’t see doctors as merely another set of professionals. We think of them as infallible sources of magical knowledge.

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