Saturday, June 9, 2007

Things that bug me Part 1*

Warning: rant alert!

People who think that they know more than their specialist because they can use Google bug me.*** Particularly when they don't realize that they are coming across as being at least as arrogant as the doctor they are criticizing for the exact same flaw. (Arrogance, not using Google. Although if my doctor used Google in front of me during a consultation, my eyebrows would raise slightly.)

Yes, everybody has a right to educate themselves. Everybody SHOULD educate themselves as much as they can. We would all be a lot healthier if we all took responsibility for our own health.


I have friends who do this, and it bugs the hell out of me, particularly when they insist that something they have read on the web contradicts what the doctor says, so the doctor must automatically be wrong.

It also really bugs me when they contradict something I am explaining to them because of said "alternative" information sources, when the topic something that I know very well because of years of experience in my previous job. (Particularly when the opinion they are asserting is, quite frankly, physically impossible for anybody with normal human physiology.) I realise that by saying this, I might come across as being arrogant, but trust me in that it isn't.

We are all entitled to our own opinion. They can take my opinion or leave it. I'm just a medical student, and don't give out medical advice, and this was not about me playing doctor. If they want to ignore my basic explanations of how the body works, that is up to them.

But if they ignore what I have to say completely and brush me off, in spite of the fact that they have known me for years, surely it should be obvious that this could be somewhat injurious to the relationship. I'm their friend, and they know that I have a lot of experience in certain things. Ignoring what I say is hurtful and disrespects my feelings.

Said people have also complained about the advice they received from their medical specialist, because they thought he was covering his back rather than helping them. When I explained that he was just following accepted health policy and evidence-based practice in that area, they still insisted that he was covering himself.

I wasn't there with them at the doctor's office. Perhaps he didn't explain himself very well, and wasn't seen to take their concerns into account and work with them to develop and implement a model of treatment that they were all happy with. But he was certainly the one in the room with the experience and knowledge to deal with the situation as safely and as best as possible.

I guess this is why it is a very poor idea to treat friends and family. Because a patient has every right to their own opinion about things, and should not feel obliged to follow what the doctor says because of any prior relationship. Also, the doctor should be able to remain neutral and impartial to the patient (while being empathetic and welcoming, of course) so that they can accept when the patient does not want to listen to what they have to say.

I think it is also fair to say that people, friendships and priorities change over the years, and so what was once a firm friendship can become difficult to sustain because people who once seemed very similar have become very different in small but important ways.

*I don't have a follow-up planned, but I'm human, and I know that many publishable things will bug me in the future. I now have more than one hundred posts. Wouldn't a series be cool?

*** Please note: I am not talking about patients with chronic illness who can become specialists in their condition and share things with their doctors that they did not know. I know a number of these people personally, and they rock. I'm talking about people who look up the basics on the internet and get sorely misled.


MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Ah google. The prophet of ignorance and poor searches. I'm getting to where I just shrug these people off. They're trying, but honestly if they don't know they're wrong you won't convince them. They've done their research and they want to think they're more intelligent than the doc treating them. Fine. You're not...but I'll pretend as well.

The Girl said...

As long as I get to the point where I don't take it personally, it will all be fine . . .