Doctors and Ambiguity

One of the great frustrations of my mother-in-law’s trial in the hospital is dealing with her surgeon, AKA “the artful dodger.”

In this case, my husband wants to get his arms around what happens after my M-in-L has her chemo treatments. How long will she be in the hospital? What are the options for nursing home care? Dr. B (as I’ll refer to him) won’t give a straight answer. He sidesteps, and even contradicts himself. One minute he says she’ll need to remain in the hospital and the next minute he talks about the social worker making arrangements.

This is after we have already ridden the rollercoaster of her possible MRSA infection (see more at — search for MRSA). Was it MRSA? or no? Dr. B says NO — but mostly we can see that he’s simply trying to cover his own tail. The nurses say yes — and insist she be put in isolation.

I think a lot of doctors learn to be ambiguous. They learn that patients are dazzled by their big words and concepts, and patients are afraid to keep asking questions. Certainly Dr. B was intimidated when I wanted to record our conversations. I won’t let him be ambiguous. I even asked my husband to stand between Dr. B and the doorway so he couldn’t leave until we got clear answers.

Sharp patients won’t let their doctors be ambiguous! Insist on clarity!

1 thought on “Doctors and Ambiguity”

  1. Hi,
    I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog 🙂
    Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day 🙂

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Trisha Torrey
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