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So many lawyers, so little time...

"The prospect of hanging focuses the mind wonderfully"--Samuel Johnson

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Location: Louisville, KY, United States

Gastroenterologist, cyclist, cellist, Christian, husband, father, grandfather.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Parking diagonally in a parallel universe*

A long time ago in a parallel universe I lived in a small town with one of those charming weekly newspapers that had articles in it like this:
Mrs. Elma Tutweiller from Mt. Washington paid a visit this weekend to her first cousin-once removed, Doris Tutweiller of 231 E. Liberty Street. "I like the Shoneys here lots" Elma said. "The brownies in the chocolate-lovers delight are soft and chewy, not them little brown bricks they got back home."

Not all of the articles dealt with the social scene. Some very thoughtful comments hid amongst the high school sports scores and the crimes reports.

"A doctor's wife copes with the malpractice crisis", the tiny heading read, right underneath the article announcing that Joe Jimmerson's dog had given birth to a litter of beautiful lab puppies. The wife of one of the family doctors in town shared her thoughts of the shame and uncertainty that a lawsuit brought to her medical family. It was well-written and deeply moving.

I knew her husband and had heard about the circumstances of the lawsuit. My considered opinion was that the doctor should have been stripped of his license, tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. How the others doctors felt about him I was never sure, other than the fact that shortly after the occurence the doc was elected as president of the county medical society.

Few of us like taking care of the woman who shows up at the ER at all hours of the day and night, complaining of horrible headaches or backpain, severe pain that would get a lot better if the doc on duty would only write her a prescription for Percocet. The family doctor certainly let his feelings be known when he admitted the 35 year old "frequent flier" lady to the hospital for observation of belly pain.

"This lady is a loser, a blight on the town, happy only when we give her a Demerol fix" he wrote in the chart. Off he went deer hunting.

This was in the 80's and few had cellphones then. The doc didn't have one, or at least he wasn't answering it. He ignored the nurses' call letting him know that the patient's belly pain was worsening, even with high doses of pain-killers. He ignored the call letting him know that the patient's abdomen had become board-rigid and that the patient could barely breath because of the severity of the pain. He ignored the call letting him know that she was going into shock. When he returned from his hunting trip, he answered the call informing him that the patient had died from a perforated ulcer and peritonitis.

In my sinless perfection I had nothing but contempt for the man. I resented that he never showed any public remorse over this blunder, chosing as best I could tell to portray himself as the victim of some cruel joke the patient had pulled. I resented that the local medical community rewarded him with the presidency of the medical society. I resented listening to him at cocktail parties mutter to his colleagues about the number of young specialists that were moving into the community and what a threat to his income potential they represented.

And I resent him now. Try as I might, I'll never believe that what I write will ever strike anyone as being anything other than excuse-making for my own blunders.

*The title is courtesy of the tagline of someone at Free Republic. Where she stole it from I don't know.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to blogs, for the past two hours,I have been completely mesmerized by the diverse lives I have been able to enter.Since I have been a victim of the inept medical system, your story is truly awesome and intriguing to me. I totally respect your beliefs and admire your ethics which I wish more doctors shared. I am sitting here now with blisters in my mouth, wondering if it is caused by the radiation from the 3D ct scan I had done two days ago. I hope not, they want me to do it over since they say I must have moved or "hiccuped" and blurred the images. I sit and wonder if perhaps it might more accurately involve an error with their equipment since I had to sit and wait 40 minutes because they "had a problem with their software"! I am so tired trying to get healthy! I have been battling so many ailments from sleep apnea,fibromyalgia, to torn maniscus of the knee.I probably could be labled as one of the middle-aged twinkie addicts you mentioned since I am also obese.
I have been misdiagnosed by a dermatologist-he said I had a sunspot - not so- I had melanoma. After surgery by a plastic surgeon in Knoxville, Tn, a sample was sent to pathology and came back with a diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma. My gyn doctor advised me to go to an oncologist who sent the sample to two different labs coming up with two different diagnosis. We finally sent a sample to NIH, coming up with two matching diagnosis of melanoma. I also had a life-changing experience when I had TMJ surgery, also in Knoxville, TN. I had an allergic reaction to the demerol they gave me for pain. Since my teeth were wired shut, it was impossible to speak, so I tried to write a message that I was having an allergic reaction, but no one would believe me and the doctor refused to change my medication. The result was I was totally disoriented and I believe I came face to face with God. The experience took away all fear of death, and I have shared the story with others that only have a short time to live.With so many ailments and horror stories, how could I possibly keep my joy? I don't know, but somehow I know there is a brighter day ahead, so I just keep plodding on, hoping one day to be lighter and healthier and maybe help someone along the way.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to blogs, for the past two hours,I have been completely mesmerized by the diverse lives I have been able to enter.Since I have been a victim of the inept medical system, your story is truly awesome and intriguing to me. I totally respect your beliefs and admire your ethics which I wish more doctors shared. I am sitting here now with blisters in my mouth, wondering if it is caused by the radiation from the 3D ct scan I had done two days ago. I hope not, they want me to do it over since they say I must have moved or "hiccuped" and blurred the images. I sit and wonder if perhaps it might more accurately involve an error with their equipment since I had to sit and wait 40 minutes because they "had a problem with their software"! I am so tired trying to get healthy! I have been battling so many ailments from sleep apnea,fibromyalgia, to torn maniscus of the knee.I probably could be labled as one of the middle-aged twinkie addicts you mentioned since I am also obese.
I have been misdiagnosed by a dermatologist-he said I had a sunspot - not so- I had melanoma. After surgery by a plastic surgeon in Knoxville, Tn, a sample was sent to pathology and came back with a diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma. My gyn doctor advised me to go to an oncologist who sent the sample to two different labs coming up with two different diagnosis. We finally sent a sample to NIH, coming up with two matching diagnosis of melanoma. I also had a life-changing experience when I had TMJ surgery, also in Knoxville, TN. I had an allergic reaction to the demerol they gave me for pain. Since my teeth were wired shut, it was impossible to speak, so I tried to write a message that I was having an allergic reaction, but no one would believe me and the doctor refused to change my medication. The result was I was totally disoriented and I believe I came face to face with God. The experience took away all fear of death, and I have shared the story with others that only have a short time to live.With so many ailments and horror stories, how could I possibly keep my joy? I don't know, but somehow I know there is a brighter day ahead, so I just keep plodding on, hoping one day to be lighter and healthier and maybe help someone along the way.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Percocet Prescription Medication said...

My name is Laura Clos and i would like to show you my personal experience with Percocet.

I am 43 years old. Have been on Percocet for 1 week now. It does kill the pain, but I found that I get itchy with this drug like I do w/ morphine.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Itchiness and bizarre dreams about zombies.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Laura Clos

1:26 PM  

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