From the news: "Dr. Sharad Shripadrao Pandit in Birmingham, England was accused in Coroner's Court this week in an extraordinary case of alleged malpractice. The parents of Alina Sarag reportedly called the GP more than 50 times about his ailing over four-and-a-half months. They testified that Pandit accused them of mollycoddling the girl and said that her symptoms were the result of being "lovesick." She then died for tuberculosis."
It boggles the mind and yet it does not.
How many of us have had the same experience of a doctor repeatedly ignoring our symptoms, and even signs of disorder and possible disease?
I found this article at another site, not medical but legal. The responses were interesting in that many wrote the same reply: Why did they continue with this doctor?
It is a good question, one I have asked myself when I have stayed with a physician who unquestioningly did not have my best interests at heart.
A few years into the trigeminal neuralgia, after the first surgery worked and then failed, my Philadelphia based neuroophthalmologist suggested I see a doctor closer to where I lived, in NYC. I adored my doc but it made sense to leave him.
Unfortunately he did not have a recommendation. I ended up with Dr. Barrett, whose name my mother got from the daughter of an acquaintance of my hers.
The experience with him was awful.
Years later I read his chart notes. "There are days like today when I believe in her pain." He never said that to me and it made no sense: the surgery proved I had trigeminal neuralgia, as did my signs and symptoms. He was erratic, saying things like "If you jump out the window you will only break your ankles because we are on the second floor." in response to absolutely nothing about jumping out a window or hurting myself, or when I commented on his seersucker jacket "I like your coat.", saying "You mean I don't look professional?" I tried to ignore his strangeness, hoping he could help me. I stayed with him, not knowing any other doctors in NYC. Had he said "I think you are a malingerer." or "I don't believe in your pain." I would have gone running back to Dr. Schatz.
After about a year, with no benefit from anything he suggested, I called Dr. Osterholm, the surgeon whose operation had worked. He agreed to redo it. Once I was back in the hospital he changed his mind. "I want you to have a thermocoagulation rhizotomy (killing the nerve with heat) instead. It is less risky." Then he added the killer: "I don't know how to turn on the machine. Dr. Martinez has to do it." I neither liked nor trusted Dr. Martinez but Dr. Osterholm replied to my repeated entreaties "Please can't you do it?" with his mantra "I don't know how to turn on the machine."
Instinct kicked in, as with the above neurologist. Get away, get away quickly. But the pain made me stay. Uncertainty made me stay. Feeling helpless and caught made me stay.
I get why the parents in the story stayed, and tried and tried to get this doctor to respond. They trusted him/they felt ensnared in the feeling of 'this is my doc, how could he not care, how can he hurt me so?'
Too many stories, in our own lives, and in the news. We need to give the docs less power. We need to remind ourselves that ultimately we are in the driver's seat. And with that comes the answer to 'why didn't they call another doctor?' And the courage to pick up the phone and find someone else.