Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When physicians abandon patients

I am trying to learn (and share) some skill sets for families to use to advocate for their loved ones in a medical (usually hospital) environment. And, in that regard, I have discussed the inherent limitations of the current hospitalist program model and the importance of researching your physicians thoroughly. Because we get it that states are not inclined to discipline "bad doctors."

I still am at a loss when a physician or surgeon abandons a patient. I do not know how to advocate in this circumstance of abandonment.

In my case, the abandonment has left me unable to walk without leg braces. It is very painful to move my dad in a wheelchair and to assist him with transfers because I am physically limited.

I apparently need additional surgery. But I cannot get the surgery while I care for my father. Dad's sub-par medical care at Duke University Hospital has extended his need for my assistance.

BOTTOM LINE: I cannot work full-time and therefore cannot afford medical insurance for myself much longer. I hate the thought of going on state public aid and Medicaid. But I am a recent cancer survivor and survivor of orthopedic medical malpractice (Carle Clinic Association in Urbana, IL).

1. Dr. Chris J Dangles: This Carle Clinic Association (Urbana, IL) orthopedic surgeon abandoned me as a patient in Spring 2002 after he performed admittedly unnecessary ankle surgeries. The surgeries failed.

Dr. Dangles told me that he did not know what to do. He told me that he would figure something out and back in touch with me. He never did. I waited almost a year and then began treating with a phenomenal orthopedic surgeon at Duke Medical (Dr. Mark Easley).

2. Dr. Alison Toth: This Duke Medical orthopedic surgeon (and Duke University girls' athletic team physician!!) had her "office manager" call me and tell me that she would not treat me. Why?

Because Dr. Alison Toth recommended to me that she could cut the saphenous nerve in my leg to relieve pain. Then, Dr. Toth sent me to a pain management anesthesiologist for some diagnostic tests. The Duke Medical anesthesiologist told me that Dr. Toth should absolutely not cut the saphenous nerve because it would cause even more pain that could never be relieved.

I asked Dr. Toth to please explain to me why the Duke anesthesiologist would say cutting the nerve was the wrong thing to do. Dr. Alison Toth's response is to have her "office manager" dump me.

Dr. Alison Toth never had the professionalism or decency to talk to me herself, much less answer the question (raised by her colleague at Duke) about cutting the nerve.

I need to determine how a patient advocates for herself/himself when the physician abandons. For me, it has been a long 8 year ride after Dr. Chris Dangles' abandonment.

1 comment:

  1. Your situation is horrifying. Shame on the original doctor. And, I am not sure why doctors think that they can willy-nilly abandon patients. What ever happened to that oath thing?

    I can imagine the frustration you must feel in fearing being dumped again. That makes it tough to advocate.

    Together, all of us lay people who have the "in the trenches" experience will help each other, support each other and make sure that the new administration does not put patients last.

    The doctors have a lot of lobbying power in Washington DC (eg AMA). We patients and families have very little.

    God bless you and your family. Be patient with each other. I wish for you a year of good health, prosperity and, most importantly, peace!

    Happy New Year!