Thursday, May 18, 2006


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Some patients will come to the clinic determined to get an operation to relieve them of whatever is ailing them. This steadfast determination is the result of opinions and beliefs surmised from a combination of advice and talk from friends and family, information gathered from the internet, and from common misconceptions.

Whether or not the surgery these patients have in mind will actually resolve their symptoms is irrelevant for they're convinced that this particular surgical procedure is exactly what they need. The only problem is that oftentimes, they're wrong. And there's almost nothing I can do to convince them otherwise.

Friends, family, and the internet are great resources, but they don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to years of medical school and residency training. I'm always amazed at how a patient will often argue with me, stating that the Google search they performed last night doesn't agree with my diagnosis.

I had a patient leave the clinic all in a huff this afternoon because she was convinced I had no idea what I was talking about. Although she clearly presented with symptoms of reflux disease that could be resolved with medication, she was convinced the removal of her gallbladder would solve all of her problems. And since I disagreed with her amateur diagnosis and refused to operate on her, she stormed out. I couldn't even get her to try a trial period of medication for her symptoms.

It's never worth the fight to convince them that they're wrong and that I'm right. I might as well try to teach a dog linear algebra. I let those patients just waltz on out of the clinic to bother some other poor physician.