Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doctors diss each other (off the record)

As I have said many times, you cannot wait for any one else to advocate for you. Take a deep breath and advocate yourself.

And, I do take my own advise . . .

There are three doctors:

1. orthopedic surgeon that has already performed 4 operations on me (great doctor that I can trust implicitly)

2. sports medicine/orthopedic surgeon that orthopedic surgeon number one referred me to (great doctor)

3. anesthesiologist/pain management that orthopedic surgeon number two referred me to for diagnostic nerve blocks (also, great doctor . . . but she apparently gives advise "off the record")

All three of the physicians are at Duke University Medical Center. A fantastic institution. But, as with many in the medical community, there is a failure to protect the patient.

Orthopedic surgeon Number One says it will not resolve the pain to remove hardware from the leg.

Orthopedic surgeon Number Two says the hardware should be removed and nerves should be repaired or cut. Orthopedic surgeon Number Two sends me to anesthesiologist to have diagnostic nerve blocks to determine whether a suspicious nerve is damaged. The nerve block demonstrated that the saphenous nerve is indeed damaged. Orthopedic surgeon Number Two wants to repair or if necessary cut the saphenous nerve.

Anesthesiologist performs the nerve blocks and understands the relief is very temporary. Anesthesiologist tells me (and my mom who is present in the office) that it would be a horrible mistake to mess with (much less cut) the saphenous nerve.

So, I contact Orthopedic surgeon Number One (who I trust with my life) and ask him what I should do. He tells me to ask the doctors to get together and develop a plan.

Okay. I send a quick facsimile to all three doctors and ask them to resolve the discrepancies and let me know what to do.

RESULT: Oh, this is good. The anesthesiologist's office called me (God forbid that the doctor actually speak to me) said that the doctor had "no intention" of speaking with any of my other doctors about this. I reminded whoever it was I was speaking with that the anesthesiologist warned me to avoid the procedure (surgery) that another physician advised me to have. The anesthesiologist's office did not get that I would want the disagreement to be resolved.

What on Earth do the physicians expect me to do? Research the medicine and decide what surgery s
hould be performed?

LESSON ANESTHESIOLOGIST IS TRYING TO TEACH ME: If you tell another doctor that I disagree with them then I will deny it and I will avoid you as a patient.

LESSON ANESTHESIOLOGIST WILL LEARN FROM ME: I have been through the proverbial ringer with doctors who refuse to be accountable. I have already undergone 7 orthopedic surgeries and I will demand that all of my questions be answered. If that means "outing" that one doctor disagrees with another, then so be it!

I contacted Orthopedic surgeon Number One and asked him what I should do now.
Stay tuned . . .

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