April 14, 2015
My job is to help you be healthy and, hopefully, happy. Unfortunately, sometimes helping you improve or maintain your health makes you unhappy. Let me explain.
Case number one involves a patient who has multiple medical issues, all of which would be improved or eliminated by significant weight loss and lifestyle changes. Over the last decade, I have spent a lot of time teaching my patient about the benefits of diet and exercise, instructing my patient in the “how to” of changing their life around and using every tool I could muster to no avail. My patient’s health is deteriorating and today I gave my patient the bad news: she had almost reached the point of no return. She was not happy! In order to stave off the inevitable, she was going to have to change radically or learn to be chronically ill. To help her find her way back to health, I had to be brutally honest, all the while knowing I might drive her out of my practice.
Case number two is the most common problem of all. My patients want antibiotics! No matter how much time I spend teaching about the differences between viral infections and bacterial infections, there are many patients who feel cheated and uncared for if they don’t get an antibiotic. Antibiotics are not your friends. When appropriate, they are a necessary evil. They come with host of possible side effects, some of which can be worse than the disease they are being used to treat. Despite all of medical science’s pleas and protocols revolving around the proper use of antibiotics, my patients feel cheated when they don’t get one.
The frustrating fact is that it takes me 3 minutes to prescribe an antibiotic and have my make my patients happy, and 10 minutes to explain why I’m not giving them an antibiotic and make my patients unhappy! Yes, by doing the wrong thing I gain your praise as a great doc; and, by doing the right thing, I get branded as a “bad” doc who just “doesn’t listen to his patients.” Sometimes, I just can’t win. Luckily, you can. I’ll take the bum rap, do the right thing and help you be healthy even if you aren’t happy!