Angry Doctor

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Clues for the Clueless - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Don’t tell me how to do my job

I am sure there are many differences between you and me, but the one important difference that matters in our patient-doctor relationship is this: I went to medical school, you didn’t.

This means I went through five years of school learning about basic sciences like anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, and medical sciences like pharmacology, pathology, and radiology.

This means I’ve seen patients in the inpatient, ambulatory, and domiciliary settings, in the paediatric, obstetric, and geriatric categories.

If some of the terms in paragraphs above are alien to you, it just goes to prove my point. Even if you understood all the terms, it still doesn’t mean you have the background knowledge or the clinical experience I possess.

I may not be the best or the most experienced doctor around (in fact I am sure I am not) but I really think I am more qualified than you.

So don’t come to me telling me you have a brain tumour because your colleague had a headache like your and it turned out to be a tumour, or that you have a slipped disc because your cousin had the same back pain and they diagnosed him to have a slipped disc. Your limited anecdotal experience does not really compare with the literally tens of thousands cases I have seen and managed.

It’s OK to disagree with my diagnosis, but when you insist that your diagnosis (not that you are qualified to make one) is the correct one, you look really stupid, like the guy in the example here:

(Guy drives his car to the mechanic.)

Guy: My car is lopsided. I think it’s the carburetor.

Mechanic: No, you have a flat tyre on the front left. Let me change the tyre for you.

Guy: No, I’m pretty sure it’s the carburetor. My cousin once had a problem like this and it turned out to be carburetor trouble.

Mechanic: Sir, I’m pretty sure it is a tyre problem. Why don’t you let me change the tyre for you and…

Guy: No! Change my carburetor!

Mechanic: Sir, do you even know where the carburetor is?

Well, I don’t know where in a car a carburetor is, so I don’t presume to tell my mechanic how to do his job.

So the next time you are tempted to tell me what your diagnosis is, ask yourself: Do I even know where my thymus is?


  • Bad news for you angry doc, this approach won't work.

    You see there is this thing called the market.

    And the market is what pays you the $$ so that you too can be part of the market.

    I'm afraid you're going to get more frustrated doing what you are doing. Because in the Singapore market the customers like the doctors to tell them "Oh yes it is your thymus that is the problem, you are so knowledgable, here let me give you some medicine or vitamins or supplements whichever you prefer to help cure your thymus"

    Heck I know of customers who like seeing this doctor because he always says they are in great health while the other many doctors tell them they have uncontrolled hypertension repeatedly and consistently every visit. To them, only that special doctor who said they are healthy because their "lower reading" was below 90 knows his stuff. The rest are just young inexperienced doctors.

    So one has to ask. Did I become a doctor to practise medicine or am I here to please the customer as the customer should always be right.

    If the answer is the former, you are in the wrong country to practise medicine.

    If the answer is the latter, then welcome to boom town charlie!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 02, 2005 11:22 am  

  • anterior mediastinum?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 02, 2005 11:42 am  

  • on the one hand, it's good to see patients taking an active interest in their own health, on the other, it becomes quite irritating when you come across people who obviously read too little to know but insist the doctor do it a certain way. the latter group of people are very welcome to seek a second opinion.

    By Blogger andrew, At November 02, 2005 3:52 pm  

  • well... there are "good" doctors. there are "lousy" doctors.

    whatever lah.

    one just live and let live, and treat people like people can liao lah :)

    By Blogger ckyh, At November 02, 2005 4:14 pm  

  • An example of where Parson's sick role totally breaks down is in army camps.

    Anyway I agree with the poor traveller.

    Just make people happy can lah. In Singapore nobody really cares if you are a good medical doctor. They just like you when you are nice and caring. Even do the wrong thing also they will love you. Look at chinese sinsehs! They love them all the time

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 02, 2005 4:21 pm  

  • First off, WELL DONE FOR THIS POST!!!

    Second, I'm afraid Dr oz bloke is right.

    People love being in denial, that is the sad thing - they'd rather hear what they want to hear than hear the truth.

    And bloody hell, damn people back home just don't GET IT - DRs are NOT in the service sector. We are not bloody salespeople trying to please u all the time - you either come to us cos u want to know why you are ill and be treated, or you shut up and stay home.


    -disgruntled colleague who decided not to go home for this very reason, amongst others

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 02, 2005 8:04 pm  

  • Such cynicism so early in one's career is concerning.

    Mind u, they system u work in (I'm in Oz) sounds very corrupted - can u leaqve toi work elsewhere ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 03, 2005 3:20 am  

  • oz is hilarious but I guess you've got to feed the patients ego first before you can get them to listen to you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 09, 2005 11:45 pm  

  • Oz Bloke is one of my favourite readers as he often provides a counter-view to my own.

    I wonder where my soul-mate Dr Quack is though…

    By Blogger angry doc, At November 10, 2005 8:34 am  

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