Should you trust your doctor?

Don’t get me wrong, I have much admiration for doctors – they have had years of training and seen many things that I wouldn’t wish to come across. They have undoubtedly saved many lives (Mine included), they have delivered many babies, and performed many hours of surgery on people to make them feel better. But I always seem to have a nagging doubt about doctors in recent years, so let me explain why this has occurred.

In 1996 I had a serious road traffic accident which saw me in hospital for many months and having my legs and neck encased in metalwork and plaster of Paris slabbed across my face for my broken nose. I had a tracheotomy which prevented me from talking. And yet thanks to the wonderful doctors, the nurses and of course not forgetting the paramedics I survived! But doctors have so much to think about and do and a huge responsibility that errors can occur.

Let me proceed: I made an appointment to see my GP (doctor) to ask him about my leg. He examined my leg, and then said “There is nothing wrong with your knee”. I politely advised him that indeed I knew there was nothing wrong with my knee (at that time), and I was in fact talking about my leg, which he had just examined. He insisted there was nothing wrong, and frustrated I left the surgery. I refused point-blank to see that doctor again – ever!

I then made an appointment with another doctor and he sent me for an x-ray. The x-ray was taken and the doctor at the hospital sent me on my way home saying the x-rays were all clear. But the pain continued and eventually I was sent to the outpatient clinic. Immediately the consultant informed me that the x-rays that had been given the ‘all clear’ were in fact not clear! They clearly showed (and he pointed it out to me) a crack in my leg! Yes, I had a broken leg, one which I couldn’t put any weight through or walk on.

And then there was the case where I went to see a doctor about a personal matter, and I informed him that I thought it might be ‘such and such’ after having read about it on-line. “OK” he replied and what is the treatment for ‘such and such’. I felt pretty embarrassed as it was, and was worried that what I was describing might be prostrate problems. But again I left the surgery feeling let down. That doctor has since left the surgery also.

And why do we always seem to take doctors word for things a never question them? I did just that while I was in hospital when the nurse came to give me double the medication compared to what I had been having. I asked the nurse why, and she replied she didn’t know. So I refused to have the extra medication until I had an answer. A few days later a nurse came and told me that the increase was due to my size (height and weight) apparently the medication I was being given was inadequate for someone of my height and weight.

So you can see perhaps why I have doubts about doctors (or some at least). But when you are in a situation that you have no option but to rely on them because they know better than most people generally do. But in theory shouldn’t we all ask questions? After all it is our bodies they are sending sometimes toxic medication into. And I do just that now, and I am surprised by the response. Instead of getting a grim look as if to say ‘I’m the one who did the training trust me’. I actually get “I wish more people asked questions”. I assume that by asking questions we ‘test their knowledge’ and keep them updated in some small way. It could also be a boost to their morale that someone is bothered and ask and listen. So I would suggest f you have any questions, however small or immaterial you may think that it is – ask!

As I am aware there is no actually legal requirement for GP’s in the UK to update their training at any time, although most obviously do want to keep up. And it would probably be unfair to suggest that any doctor wouldn’t want the best for their patient. But they need to realise that for that tens of thousands + salary: They really should keep up to date with training for the safety of their patients. Most doctors do keep up with things as they happen, but I’m unsure if they follow this up with training.

Overall:

Yes of course you should trust your doctor, unless you have reason not to. But if you have the slightest doubt about anything, or a nagging question – just ask. Doctors on the whole not only expect it – they want it. Doctors undergo thorough training and testing for many years to qualify and therefore they are more knowledgeable than the likes of me or many non trained people. But one thing I do know is that Doctors can make mistakes, they are not perfect on every occasion, and you never know by asking that question it may knock something into place that wasn’t there.

Doctors are of course worth every penny they earn, Many do long hours and most are on call 24/7 at some point in their career. So this post isn’t about slagging doctors off for mistakes, instead it praises the doctors, but also adds some responsibility to you the patient.

At the end of the day Doctor’s are human, and all humans make mistakes, so if in doubt or concerned – question!

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