Dear Dr. _________,
I am writing as a follow-up to our ER visit on Saturday. I am certain that you will remember me, the guardian who fired you from treating my brother. I wanted to take a minute and explain to you why I asked you to step aside and why another physician was needed in your place.
- You made a recommendation for medical care for my brother without assessing him. You did not even take 5 seconds to step in and say hello and yet, somehow you think your pedigree gives you the right to treat him, sight unseen.
- You made a recommendation for an invasive medical treatment without cause. Sure, go ahead and restrain my brother to the bed so that you can put an IV in him. I’ll just step aside and allow you and your staff to recklessly provide treatment that is not medically necessary. Your “little” hospital makes a profit off that IV doesn’t it? Your “little” hospital does not make any money off my brother when he is taking up a bed for observation does it?
- You had the audacity to ask where “his mother” was! How dare you? You do not know the first thing about him or his situation. If you had taken the time to even glance at his file, you would have seen that he was there with his sister and guardian–the person who has provided care for him for the past 20 years. That should have been a hint that his mother was not in the picture. Did it ever occur to you that his mother might have passed away at some point in his life? He is 33 after all. As humans age, the likelihood that our parents pass away increases. How cold and inconsiderate of you to ask such a question!
- How many grand mal seizures have you seen? Let’s be honest. You are, at best, 28 years old. I’m pretty sure you didn’t see any seizures in medical school, maybe 1 or 2 in your residency, maybe 1 or 2 more in your time in the ER. I’ll give you 5 and I think that is generous. How many of my brother’s seizures have you seen? Zero. That’s right–none. If you learned anything in medical school, it should have been that no two people have the same type of seizures. So don’t go taking your very minor seizure experience and try to act like you know anything about my brother’s seizures. By the way, I’ve been a witness and first responder to my brother for about 5 seizures per year. You do the math. I’m pretty certain that I know more than you do when it comes to his seizures.
- Before you go talking down your nose to me, you should know that I am not some uneducated homeless person off the street. I realize that at your fancy “little” hospital, most of your patients are homeless, uninsured, do not speak English as a first language, or are drunk/strung out on drugs. What you don’t know is that I have a doctorate myself. That degree came from a major Research-I institution (top 5 in my field if you want to get specific about it). Oh, and I have a master’s degree too–from an Ivy League school very similar to the one where you work now. So please, do not patronize me.
- Finally, I will remind you that you took the Hippocratic Oath at some point in your career. You remember it, don’t you? I especially want to highlight the parts about over-treatment and the importance of warmth and sympathy. I’m including a copy so you can review it in its entirety.
I hope that you learned something from your experience with my brother and me. You need to treat your patients and their family members with respect and care. Contrary to what you may have been taught in medical school, you do not know everything. You are not even close. Maybe after a few more years of experience, you will learn that. Or maybe you won’t.
Missy (the sister, guardian, and eternal advocate for my brother)
Hippocratic Oath (Modern Version via Wikipedia)
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of over-treatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.