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The Bleeding Woman Strikes Back

February 15, 2007

If you think I’m over the top in likening the medical establishment to a python, please don’t read on. This here is what you call a rant, and by any rules of cost to earnings ratio, it’s not unearned.

Here are a few observations I’ve collected over the years.

1) If you’re a doctor and you can’t treat something and don’t have the research aptitude to contribute to a cure, you can still get your name emblazoned in fame and history by identifying an obvious malady or “symptom cluster” and naming a “syndrome” after yourself. I carry a couple of brand name syndromes myself. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need to know some doctor identified the symptoms: I already did; that’s why I’m here getting labeled. Um, duh. If I brought my car in because it wasn’t working properly, how much would I appreciate getting the problem labeled with an exotic name and not repaired and paying for it anyway?

2) Malpractice claims are overrated. When I took Law and Medicine in law school (1993), the fact was that fewer than 2% of deaths and permanent non-fatal harm that actually, admittedly resulted from malpractice, were ever involved in litigation. Some settled, and many were not even pressed by the injured parties–they were bought off with “apologies.”

3) This is just my own unverified suspicion, but I do suspect that there is likely more iatrogenic (hospital- or physician-induced) disease than psychogenic disease.

4) Pain is real and reality implies causality. Just because someone who should have majored in 16-Century Low German Literature can’t identify the cause doesn’t mean it’s imaginary or that “there’s nothing wrong with” the patient.

5) If I have a first name, you have a first name, “Doctor.”

6) Where are all the diagnosticians? Why is there such an emphasis on generic “family medicine?” Family medicine seems to be a scheme for packaging profits, not treating individuals.

7) What’s with the “social history” medical professionals are now exacting? I’ve received exactly zero help for any health issues by revealing the geographical coordinates and other social details of my lifetime. Is Multicare cooperating with Homeland Security in collecting this information?

8) The American Academy of Family Physicians, I read in Arthritis Today, has admitted there is absolutely no value in annual physical exams. Yet doctors persist in requiring them, holding needed prescriptions for actual conditions hostage to the ritual. True, Federal law requires the doctor to lay eyes on you before renewing your prescription. But couldn’t she do something useful in the course of laying on eyes? Just the blood test, ma’am….

9) By the time the generalist is persuaded of his–um–limitations, and you are referred to a specialist, the specialist has decided to stop seeing new patients with your problem. But eventually you get on someone’s five-month-long waiting list. You are finally diagnosed! By then you are so tired of being probed and interrogated that you are demented: you actually celebrate the fact that there really is something wrong with you. At last, you are vindicated by actual illness. Now that is bizarre.

10) Really, doctor, you flatter me. You have identified my highest and best use: as an unpaid subject in a drug trial for which you will be substantially paid by the drug company.

11) Notwithstanding the above, I am grateful my cat’s specialist did not major in 16th-Century Low German Literature. Though I understand it’s quite lovely.

  1. February 15, 2007 12:06 pm

    I laughed. Then I cried.

  2. Ruben permalink
    February 15, 2007 9:34 pm

    Sadly, I can sympathize with #9.

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