I really don't care what the doctor said

I found this rant hiding in my drafts folder and figured that since I took the time to rant, I might as well post it!


While conducting a home visit for a client, I noticed her caretaker hobbling around and grimacing. I asked if he'd been hurt. "No, the doctor says it's nothing."

So then it doesn't hurt anymore? No, it still hurts. A maelstrom of irritation churned in my belly. I no longer care what the doctor says.

At some point, probably in the last few months, I passed a critical point at which years of watching doctors make serious mistakes that are expensive and cause pain and death, all of which I've been expected to accept because doctors know best, got stuck in my throat.

They're human. They make mistakes. I get it. That noble idea soured when I realized that nurses don't get the same consideration. Not only that, but they take the rap a lot of the time when it was a doctor's error. The "I'm only human" saw is more believable when not trotted out after situations like these:

  • I've told the physician a dozen times that something is wrong with the patient and been ignored, made fun of, or hung up on; the patient dies.
  • The patient has told the physician a dozen times that this isn't like the other pain; the physician ignores the patient; the patient dies.
  • The physician learns that the patient has a mental illness; everything becomes psychosomatic; the patient dies.

That doesn't make you human. It makes you negligent. I am also bitter on my own behalf as a patient. Multiple physicians spent the better part of a year endangering my life by failing to investigate the cardiac symptoms I said I was having, leaving me in constant danger of sudden death. Why? I have anxiety, so, to them, my report was suspicious and easy to ignore. Happens all the time. I might have felt better with even one, "holy cow, turns out you had a really bad problem! I'm so sorry I didn't believe you. Glad you didn't die!" But probably not. It's all theoretical because part of the "I'm only human" thing is "I don't apologize."

I am still bitter over dozens of patients I've known over the years. Too many doctors have been like wielders of the cruciatus curse. You, for some reason, they may like, so you get Dilaudid for your mosquito bites (I've actually seen this; I couldn't make it up). You, for some reason, they don't like, so you will get Tylenol for a broken ankle ("eeeeeeeeeeeee"). If you happen to have a uterus and ovaries, you will almost certainly sit around in horrible pain for as long as it takes a male doctor to find the reason for it, whereas if you have tesicles and just act like you're in pain, you'll be in a morphine haze in no time.

So, no, I'm just not impressed anymore. If "the doctor said she didn't know what was causing my pain" had come out of the person's mouth, fine. THAT I am fine with. But this wholesale acceptance of "the doctor said there's nothing wrong, so I'll ignore all evidence to the contrary" is an idea whose time has reached an expiration date.