When Being a Tattle Tale is All for the Good

Yesterday I saw the surgeon who was part of my misdiagnosis story for the first time in 2-1/2 years. He was one of the good guys in the story. He did what he was supposed to do, and did it to his best ability.

But I realized as we were chatting, that he was also responsible for referring me to the bad guys — the doctors who screwed up — the doctors who created the mess of my misdiagnosis. They are the two doctors in the hematology-oncology practice who insisted I begin chemo, despite the fact that all evidence pointed to flawed biopsy results.

So I told him. I shared that part of the story with him. And I made him realize that sending me to those oncologists had almost killed me. At the very least, had I not trusted my intuition and advocated for myself, I would have suffered through chemo because they weren’t willing to listen to me, nor were they willing to look behind the flawed test results.

I made the surgeon understand that his colleagues’ bad medicine was a reflection on him, and if I were him I would think twice before referring patients to them again.

The surgeon was more than a little shocked. He told me he hated to hear that about his collegues, and he left it, very professionally, at that. But I can guarantee you he’s going to think twice before he refers a patient to them again. And that’s exactly how it should be.

This experience is going to find its way into my next column, for sure. It’s an extension of the idea of voting with your feet. When we experience bad medicine, it’s up to us to make sure the doctor knows how we feel — and — we need to let the doctors who make the referrals know about it, too.

Trisha Torrey
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