Small town “Scarred by a Trusted Doctor”

Yugh and lawsuits abounding:

Nearly 300 patients have filed lawsuits against a local cardiologist and his two partners, claiming that they performed needless operations.

Source: A Small Indiana Town Scarred by a Trusted Doctor – The New York Times

Warning: If you, unlike me, are highly suspicious of doctors and the medical procedures they recommend, this story will escalate your paranoia.

But if you read through the whole article, you’ll learn that there were other physicians in the community warning about this doctor.

Trouble is, just like crime–the occupation of a minuscule percentage of our population–it takes only one bad physician to cause waves of MD fear to break out among all patients.

Note: A couple of months ago I had my annual skin inspection performed by my scrupulous dermatologist–a necessity because, although I have always avoided spending time in direct sunlight, I am what is professionally called “moley.” That is, my skin is prone to popping out moles. And those moles must be looked at every year.

I have had the occasional mole that required a biopsy (all have come back negative). But this time a mole was suspicious enough to my dermatologist that he said it should be removed. Although he showed me precisely what looked odd to him, I myself couldn’t judge why that mole was different from all my other moles.

But I trust him utterly. He sent me to a plastic surgeon.

Some people–see above, re suspicions–would have brushed off the warning, I’m sure. I didn’t. Under precisely localized anesthesia, the surgeon removed the mole.

To my surprise, the biopsy came back diagnosing a condition much closer to melanoma than I, at least, expected. I’ve since had a further procedure to make sure the clean margins around that excised mole are wider.

I tell you this because distrust of physicians–provoked further by articles like the NYT one about Dr. Gandhi–can be dangerous to your health.

Because I’m not a doctor, I wasn’t sure of the remedy to the disease known as Fear of Physicians. I suppose if a doctor recommends a surgical procedure that concerns you, go for a second opinion, and even a third. But in the end, you–like me, with my bad mole–can’t diagnose for yourself.

We are laymen. We don’t know enough.

LATER TODAY: I contacted my brother-in-law Rob, who just this week retired from his medical practice. Here’s exactly what he said about what you should do if your physician’s treatment recommendation makes you worried:

2nd and 3rd opinions are always appropriate.  If an MD shows any hesitancy about getting a 2nd opinion, dump him/her.

Having a good reliable internist you trust to run things by probably is your best defense.

Dr Rob

And that’s direct from the doctor’s RX pad!

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