Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dumbed Down Doctors

I had the most illuminating discussion with a doctor today.

My wife had been under his care since March for a condition that is slowly getting worse.  The condition itself erupted in June of last year.

We had gotten a second opinion from a very well-respected and experienced doctor.  One piece of advice from this doctor was "take four biopsies and send them to four different labs."  When we mentioned this to the regular doctor, he shook his head and said, "That doesn't make sense.  What if you get four different results?  What do you do then?  I think we should take just one biopsy."

I was almost too aghast to respond.  Eventually I said, "If you really have so little faith in the results, why even bother doing one biopsy?"

But here's what I wish I had said:
  • When dealing with large uncertainty in data, the proper method is to increase the sample size, not decrease it, and,
  • What you're suggesting is that it's possible that at least three of every four lab results can be incorrect. That means the one result you get has at least a 75% chance of being wrong, and,
  • Didn't you have to take statistics in order to become a doctor? I think you should get your money back.
But, as I said, I was too aghast at his ignorance.

I could've accepted the one biopsy response if he said that insurance won't cover it, or that hospital policy forces us to use our own lab, or some other bureaucratic bullshit because I've become accustomed to it.  But I never expected such blatant ignorance.

And this doctor was voted Best Doctor in his specialty in our region.

I'm beginning to think that we need to go to a doctor outside the USA or consult a Shaman.  I no longer have faith in AMA-bred medical professionals.


Zazzy said...

There are some good ones. There are. But I have had the misfortune to be around some of the really dumb ones, too. I can deal with that for the little things, things that I can tell them what I need. But biopsies? Scary stuff that needs to be accurate. I hope you find someone you can work with.

Author said...

Thanks! The one who consulted for the second opinion seemed to make sense. But the facility is about an hour away from us.