Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just because you can...

...doesn't always mean that you should.

It's a fairly common occurrence, a physician recommends a procedure and the patient, especially the elderly patient it seems, readily complies with the recommendation without investigating all the available options. I say especially the elderly patient because the older generations have lived most of their lives in a culture that viewed medical professionals as infallible authorities. Those of us who have grown up with the information age are more likely to say, "Wait a minute" and question the doctor further, investigate their options and/or ask for a second opinion.

Please don't infer that I'm bashing the medical profession, far from it. It is my opinion that we have the best medical care in the world available to us in the US. But doctors are trained to fix things. And especially in cases involving older folks I don't necessarily think they are trained to consider that not "fixing" something might be the best option. I read this article today on the possibility that anesthesia may spur the onset of dementia in older patients. That would be a risk factor I would want to consider when faced with the possible need for a procedure.

We are very fortunate that Mama's primary care doctor is a firm believer in the least worst option. We have had several occasions when a specialist has firmly recommended a procedure or a medication that in Dr. G's opinion and ours was that the risks aren't worth the possible benefit. He knows her medical history, how her body responds and reacts to things and what her personal wishes are. So when the surgeons and specialists "come at her with scalpels" (Mama's words) she refers them straight to Dr. G and then we discuss the plan of action or inaction together. It's a beautiful thing.

Modern medicine is also a beautiful, wonderful thing. One of the reasons we can even have this discussion is because our lifespan continues to get longer and longer due to continually better medical care. But common sense and investigating all the options are still and always the very best medicine.


愛鋒頭 said...
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nana4cody said...

2nd and sometimes 3rd opinions are what we need as patients. As a nurse I have always seen that Mr. and Mrs. Public are too quick to put their physician in a position of authority rather than what they are/should be and that is a position as a PARTNER in their medical care. Good for Mama and Dr. G!! Physicians are humans and at time where the same size blinders we all do. EDUCATE yourself as the patient, first and foremost!

Pablo said...

Wow, very nice and sensitive post. All I was fed with all my life was "trust your doctor, he knows what he is doing". Then I've read somewhere that 80% or something of doctors graduated in the 10% bottom of their class. This was simple common sense but totally shocked me.

Like you say, we should listen to our doctors, and many times do what they say, but it is good to inform ourselves and see the options.