Bad Medicine

Read Gina Colata’s front-page article in the New York Times, New Studies Question Value of Opening Arteries. Money quote:

The study “caused an uproar,” Dr. Waters said. “We were saying that atherosclerosis is a systemic disease. It occurs throughout all the coronary arteries. If you fix one segment, a year later it will be another segment that pops and gives you a heart attack, so systemic therapy, with statins or antiplatelet drugs, has the potential to do a lot more.” But, he added, “there is a tradition in cardiology that doesn’t want to hear that.”

There is a type of person who’s attracted to the medical profession because of parental pressure, its aura of prestige, and its potential for lucre. Some of those who do become doctors also convince themselves that they “know better”, and that the patient is wrong to ask questions or even to show doubt.

My experience with a bad doctor several years ago was such that now, as a matter of principle I will ask any question, whether the doctor likes it or not, and will do my best to inform myself as fully as possible on what my alternatives are. If the doctor is uncomfortable with a patient that is willing to learn and actively participate in her care, I am changing doctors.

My thanks to the New York Times for placing that article on the front page. A doctor who’s wrong, no matter how wrong, is only wrong, but the patient is dead.

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