The Obnoxious Patient
I was reading an article by CNN Medical News correspondent Elizabeth Cohen about a so called “Obnoxious Patient” that was “fired” by his doctor. In the article Dr. David Golden says he had to fire a patient for being obnoxious because the patient would not stop questioning him about the possible side effects of a medication that he, the doctor, was going to prescribe. The doctor stated that the patient was not open to discussing anything.
While reading the article I had to start laughing. I do not know if that was appropriate response or not but the irony of the article struck home with me, as it would strike home with any of us in the fluoroquinolone victim community. Dr. Golden says he’s all for empowered and educated patients, but some patients have become so empowered, they’re actually putting their care in jeopardy. I had to ask myself what would have happened if I would have questioned my doctor about the fluoroquinolone he prescribed me. Well, actually I did and he assured me that the drug was safe and well tolerated. Maybe I should have questioned even more. In hindsight, I would have gladly been fired by him as opposed to get the medicine that basically changed my life forever. Who knows maybe Dr. Golden did his patient a favor.
I do not know how many FQ sufferers have told me that their doctors are not open to discussing the possibility that the FQ is the cause of their damage. Many FQ sufferers have also related to me that their doctor’s responses ranged from polite dismissal, to outright hostility, and some doctors had the gall to actually diagnose the FQ victim with suffering from a mental illness when they try to link the symptoms with a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. These are all from individuals who presented their information in a very civil, non-obnoxious manner. Most people with chronic illnesses, and almost all people in the FQ victim community, find it ironic that doctors, whose profession is suppose to be open to continual learning, are actually so closed minded. Unfortunately this sad behavior has been around for a very long time.
This plight of facing a closed-mindedness that is disguised as open-mindedness is nothing new. Laura Hillenbrand, author of the famous book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend”, was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome many years ago. Before her diagnosis she had to endure all kinds of humiliation by physicians who, out of ignorance, would not listen to her. Laura Hillenbrand wrote “The doctor I found waved me into a chair and began asking questions and making notes, pausing to rake his fingers through a hedge of dark hair that drifted onto his brow. He ran some tests and found nothing amiss. He told me to take antacids. A few weeks later, when I returned and told him that I was getting worse, he sat me down. My problem, he said gravely, was not in my body but in my mind; the test results proved it. He told me to see a psychiatrist.” When she was seen by a psychiatrist that found her mentally fit, her doctor told her to go see another psychiatrist.
Now, I don’t want anyone reading this article thinking that I am advocating that they become obnoxious with their doctor. I do however support that you strongly advocate for yourself. With the dawn of the internet, information that was once only readily available in the realm of the medical professional is now readily available to the general public. Information that once took a long time to accumulate and analyze, can be reviewed and accessed with lightning speed. This can intimidating to some doctors.
Conversely, you must remember that doctors must first approach each new patient on a level playing field. They basically have to start at square one. However a good doctor, once he/she has established that you are an articulate, intelligent patient should use your knowledge about your own health combined with their medical knowledge in a synthesis to formulate a treatment plan if possible. In a past article I wrote about what I coined as the “The Semmelweis Effect.” The Semmelweis Effect takes place when a credible, articulate, intelligence patient presents a plausible mechanism for their medical problem, and in the absence of any irrefutable diagnosis is dismissed by their medical professional. If this occurs it is time for you to do the firing. It is a shame in American today, that the patient knows more about a medical condition than the doctor. If that makes me obnoxious, then label me “guilty as charged!”, but forgive me if I don’t sit idly by while the doctor dismisses the information that I present to him/her.
We in the FQ community are a unique breed. We are clearly suffering from something that is not yet acknowledged by the main stream medical community although overwhelming documentation and anecdotal evidence exists. I have written about this before in several articles and will probably continue to write about it until we as a community get the attention of the medical community. But please do not lose hope. I believe a day will come when we will see vindication!