Post-op Day 1

Who could have imagined that my biggest source of frustration so far would emanate from… other physicians. That is, if surgeons are really physicians and not just technicians.

A physician is respectful of her/his patients – does not make jokes about their age, refer to them as ancient, nor sneer when speaking to family members. A physician does not ignore standards of care when managing postoperative pain – the very pain she/he inflicted. In fact a physician cares about the well-being of his patient beyond the organ or disease or injury he is trying to treat; listens to input of others involved in the patient’s care (nurses, therapists, even lowly family members who know the patient’s baseline health care status best); and takes time to conduct more than cursory examination of the wound site (perhaps then he could recognize the signs of significant blood loss).

Yes, it is a rare surgeon who also is a physician. Fortunately for Dad, my not-so-subtle involvement in his care has brought a hospitalist to his bedside so I can sleep tonight without worrying that he is suffering needlessly or at risk of complications because a real physician is not available 24 hours a day during his recovery.

Closing rant summary:

A surgeon at a top ranking medical facility is not necessarily a good physician.
Families must be ever vigilant in their loved ones’ (and their own) medical care.
No amount of health care reform will make a good physician out of someone with a medical degree.

6 thoughts on “Post-op Day 1

  1. Wow – that is quite a statement. And all the more powerful coming from you! My MIL had a horrible hospital experience after knee replacement surgery some years ago and refuses to have other surgeries (knee and shoulder) done now as a result. But it was not her surgeon but the the nursing staff who made it so horrible. And complications that could have been avoided. My husband ended up sleeping at her bedside and I spent the days there. I hope things go more smoothly for your dad from here on out.

  2. Having worked alongside several men and women who had a medical degree but did not deserve the title of physician…I shall give a hearty…


  3. Both my parents are physicians & I work in an allied field so I know many many doctors & couldn’t agree more. Brains are one thing, technical ability is another, and caring, compassion & communication are often what makes one doctor good & another terrible. Regardless of brains or technical ability. Last year I went with a surgeon whose technical ability was high but human qualities were lower – and I knew the choice I made was right for me at that time – but admittedly its not easy.

    What’s that saying? “What do you call the guy who graduates last in his class from medical school?” “Doctor.”

  4. The sad aspect is that there are no reasons for physicians/surgeons to be deficient in the art of medicine — unless he is a hopeless sociopath who should have been kicked out of medical school years earlier. Empathy is difficult to learn but not impossible. Patient interaction skills are taught in medical schools but often get stomped out in residency training where attending and higher ups eat their young in some pathetic display of tradition and medical machismo. I do understand the need to distance oneself from the human you are cutting into during a procedure, but a physician has to quickly “re-associate” himself to the patient or risk being a jerkwad forever. Excuse my use of technical terms 😉

    Docs who end up in private practice and continue to behave badly often find their referrals drying up. Unfortunately money and disciplinary action often are the only maneuvers to correct asshole-ness.

    p.s. – my father is doing pretty good post-op day 6. His attending physician has not physically seen him since the day of surgery – major Medicare no-no…

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