Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Juggling the opinions of multiple doctors

I see a multitude of doctors. The main doctor is my nephrologist because my primary problem is with the kidneys and all the others are offshoots of this. Then, I need to consult with a cardiologist for my LVH, a gastroenterologist for liver related issues, a neurophysician for my neuropathy and a General Practitioner for everything in between.

The problem with medical science is that there are no definitive standards. And it cannot be any other way. Everybody is different. There cannot be a single line of diagnosis and treatment in different people. This leads to a lot of subjectivity in a particular doctor's approach to treatment.

For example, for my neuropathy, the neurophysician prescribed certain drugs. They don't seem to be helping. The GP wonders why those particular drugs were prescribed. He said there were other better drugs available. Now, the neurophysician is supposed to be the expert on this. What do I make of this?

There is again a marked difference in the way younger doctors treat their patients compared to those from a slightly older generation. Younger doctors tend to be a little more aggressive and are usually up-to-date in their knowledge because of the ease with which they use the internet. Older doctors tend to adopt more 'safe' methods.

In all this confusion, it can be quite unnerving for the patient. He is left wondering whose advice to follow. After all, it is his life that is at stake.

One thing that I have learned over the years is to trust your common sense. You know your body the best. Even if you do not have a medical degree, you are a little bit of an expert when it comes to your body. Talk to your docs and understand the rationale. Be well read. And then take your own decision.

It may be quite daunting to do this but believe me, it is the only way out.

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