Have you ever noticed that the only professions that use the term ‘practicing’ are the medical and legal professions? You don’t hear about anyone practicing business management or practicing nuclear physics or even practicing teaching. I’ve known several doctors personally as friends and I’ve asked them about that in the past and they both told me that practicing is appropriate because there are no certainties in medicine and they don’t always get it right.
Just a couple of months ago, a friend of mine found out just how poorly some doctors practice their medicine. He was suffering from pain in his back along with his arm. He went to his doctor and was told it was just a back thing and would be okay. A day later, the pains were more intense and he was even having difficulty breathing. He went to urgent care and they again said it was his back. He asked if it could be his heart and they said no. The next day the pain was more intense and he went to the ER and again told it was his back and not to worry. Again he asked if it could be his heart and again they told him no. On the fourth day, with the pains becoming unbearable, he returned to the ER and again told not the heart, just his back. He insisted they do an EKG and when the doctor saw the results, he was immediately admitted to the hospital and rushed into surgery for his heart. Turns out he was having a heart attack for 4 days and a number of doctors kept dismissing it as just back pain.
My wife has chronic sinus trouble and often develops a cough because of all the sinus drainage. About 10 years ago, her doctor sent her to a pulmonologist who diagnosed her as having COPD when all it was were her sinuses.
My oldest daughter began losing her vision several years ago. Local doctors tried to tie it to a pituitary tumor since the optic nerves run through the pituitary cavity. She ended up traveling to Houston’s Methodist Hospital because local doctors in our area just didn’t seemed concerned enough to help and basically wrote it off as a result of the tumor. Now she has learned that the loss of vision has little to do with the tumor, which has returned, but most likely is due to a genetic mutation known as McCune Albright’s Syndrome, which has a number of other symptoms that have been found in my daughter.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the horror stories like the one of a Tampa surgeon who amputated a patient’s wrong leg. Or the case in Nashville where a doctor operated on the wrong baby. Then there was the patient that had double bypass surgery only to find out later that the surgeon bypassed the wrong artery. A 67-year-old woman went into a hospital to undergo a cerebral angiography. Afterwards, she was returned to a different room on another floor. Instead of being discharged the next morning, she was taken to an operating room and was an hour into open heart surgery when the woman’s doctor tracked her down and demanded to know what was happening to his patient. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center failed to check the blood type of a heart-lung donor to see if it was compatible with their patient. After the transplant, they discovered the blood type of the donor organs was incompatible with the 17-year-old girl. The doctor did a second surgery to correct the problem, but it was too late. The girl suffered a number of complications, went into a coma and died.
In fact, a new study reveals that medical errors are now the third leading cause of deaths in the United States, claiming 251,000 lives a year. Heart disease is number 1 with 614,348 deaths a year followed by cancer with 591,699. Medical errors cause more deaths then respiratory disease (147,101), accidents (136,053), stroke (133,103), Alzheimer’s (93,541), diabetes (76,488), flu/pneumonia (55,227), kidney disease (48,146) and suicide (42,773).
I’m not telling anyone to stop going to the doctor, but I am telling everyone that they need to be informed about what’s happening to them and what their doctor is doing or prescribing. Remember, it’s your body and they are only PRACTICING medicine.