Trust. It’s a powerful word. It’s something most people don’t readily do with just anyone. Time is taken to develop trust with others, especially when it comes to our innermost secrets and our own lives. Why is it that we won’t easily trust others with something so precious as our safety and our lives, yet we give instant, almost complete unconditional trust to a person in a white coat with M.D. after his or her name?
‘Let me see your identification
You don’t need to see his identification
We don’t need to see his identification
These aren’t the droids you’re looking for
These aren’t the droids we’re looking for
He can go about his business
You can go about your business
All too often we go to a doctor with a problem with the expectation that that person will know what to test for and come to the right conclusion for a diagnosis, then prescribe the best treatment for us. Unfortunately, doctors are trained to look for the most common reason for the ailment, and if it is curable, cure it; if it is merely treatable, treat the symptoms.
The problem comes in to play when someone has something that appears to be something else. The doctor treats for what he believes is wrong, when it is the wrong diagnosis. Most people think the doctor surely knows his stuff since he went to medical school. But doctors are people – and people make mistakes.
Doctors many times aren’t testing for the right things. Some doctors even have an aversion to any other potential theory than what they come up with and will refuse to consider an alternative. One may ask him a question, and then get an answer that we unquestionably accept – almost like a Jedi mind trick – even if it is wrong. They are so focused on looking for what seems to be the most reasonable answer, without really taking the time to ask a lot of background questions of the patient to get a true full assessment. They hardly ever look for the zebras, only the horses – except on rare occasion, you will get a great doctor that explores all options.
It’s a shell game of sorts. Misdirection. Especially if the doctor is a “thought leader” for pharmaceutical companies and is more prone to write prescriptions for certain medications, which influences his assessments of his patients. He will tell you the most likely suspect, write you a prescription, and then, having absolute trust, you assume he is right (without question) and follow “doctor’s orders.”
Should we trust our doctors? Yes. Can we trust our doctors? Maybe not so much. I’m not saying all doctors and their diagnoses or treatments are wrong, but a decent amount of the time, they should at least be questioned.
Without having an M.D. behind our own names, it is hard to know what questions to ask or know where to begin. However, everyone can start by making sure they research doctors before they chose them to treat themselves. Find out where they went to school, where they completed their internships and residencies. Are they board certified? How long have they been in practice? Have they been considered an excellent doctor by their peers and previous patients? (By the way, quick aside – D Magazine and Texas Monthly both do a “Top Docs” and “Super Doctors” respectively – both hard copies and online) And maybe most importantly, what is their treatment philosophy. This is a start to find great doctors to work with. Ones that may be willing to explore options, take time to actually listen to their patients, and not necessarily jump to conclusions or guide you toward a wrong diagnosis or treatment.
So next time you are looking for a doctor, or looking for an answer to your ailment… don’t be a weak minded fool.