Taking Responsibility for Your Health - Doctors Don't Know Everything

You Can Be One of Your Best Doctors

Let me just preface this hub by saying that I don't want it to sound like an all out war against doctors.  I'm glad we have the technology that we do available today.  I appreciate all the hard work that doctors put in.  I have relatives who are doctors, dentists, pharmacists etc., and I know they view their careers as missions of sort.

What I do want to make clear through the examples I'll provide is that when it come to taking care of yourself or someone close to you, vigilance is key.

Inform Yourself

You could know as much as your doctor or more about medical issues you may be facing.
You could know as much as your doctor or more about medical issues you may be facing.

Cases in Point

Case in Point 1: Staph Infection

When I was 14 years old, I wrestled for my high school wrestling team. Anyone who knows the environment wrestlers are subjected to won't be surprised to learn that shortly after I began wrestling seriously, I started having issues with my skin. Worse than that, my face started breaking out with what I originally thought were sweat related pimples, but they acted differently. Being a teenager concerned with my appearance, I wanted to find out what was wrong with my skin. I started researching books at my school library (the Internet wasn't in full swing back then), and I used other sources to figure out that I'd gotten a staph infection either from my school's practice mat or from one of the wrestling meets I'd participated in.

When the infection didn't go away for a few weeks, my mother decided it was time to take me to the doctor. When I went in to see him, I told him that I'd done some research on what was affecting me, and I'd determined that it was a staph infection. He persistently told me that it was not a staph infection, but that it was related to puberty and hormones. At my insistence, the doctor said he's take a skin sample and run a test on it.

On our next visit to the doctor, he told my mother and me that in fact it was a staph infection. Then he prescribed some antibiotics to get rid of the disease. The antibiotics worked as expected, but I learned an important lesson from the experience. Previous to that appointment, my perspective was that doctors know everything there is to know about treating a patient, and that their opinions were not to be questioned. My experience in that instance changed and many that I've had since then changed my outlook.

Case in Point 2: Botched Ultrasound/D&C

My wife's uncle is a gynecologist. During a visit to see him and his family recently he told us about an experience he had with a doctor who had been forced into his group because she was female, and the hospital with whom the group worked badly wanted to have a woman gynecologist in their group.

Shortly after this new gynecologist began working in my wife's uncle's group, one of her pregnant patients came in for an ultrasound visit. Apparently this doctor wasn't very good at doing ultrasounds. While checking her patient with the latest in ultrasound equipment, she determined that the baby was dead, and she scheduled the patient for a D & C (Dilation and Curettage) procedure. The woman later came in and had this doctor perform the D & C. A couple weeks after the D&C, the woman came back into the office and complained that she still felt pregnant. At that point, one of the other doctors performed an ultrasound and found out that there was still a baby inside the woman's womb. Miraculously, this woman bore a healthy little child months later despite having a hack doctor make two major mistakes that almost cost her a child.

Again, the point I'm making is not that doctors are not to be trusted. Nor am I advocating for malpractice attorneys, the majority of whom I believe are detrimental to our society. What I am saying is that it is in your best interest to spend an hour or more (maybe much more) trying to get an understanding of what information is available for whatever health condition you may be facing.

My wife has been facing somewhat of a dilemma with giving vaccine shots to our little boy. She, like many other parents, is concerned about there being a possible link between autism and shots. We are not wacko naturalists. We believe proven medicine has its place and has done much good. However, as my wife stated to me, it would be a tough pill to swallow if research later did show that giving shots to kids at a particular time or in certain groups did cause autism, and we didn't inform ourselves to the point of making an assertive, educated decision.

We live in a time when information is freely available to anyone who's willing to spend the time to study. What I'm advocating in this hub article is that people become their own physician's assistant. You have a vested interest in what happens to your health, more so than a doctor who has seen hundreds or thousands of patients, and who may be treating you as if your symptoms are not uniquely yours, because they are too similar in his eyes to the last twenty people he saw to allow him to observe that your case might be different.

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