Is Being A True Doctor A Slow Dying ‘Art’?

7 Comments

Our family doctor was awesome — Dr. Wilken. We were 5 siblings and Dr. Wilken knew each of our medical histories like we were his own children. He listened to our concerns, made it clear when he thought we were just “playing for sympathy”, took the time to explain a potential medical issue and acted promptly when necessary.

Until this day, I judge every doctor I see on the standard of treatment I received from Dr. Wilken.

However, after reading three recent newspaper articles, it looks like Dr. Wilken has raised the bar a bit too high for some of his peers.

Malice and negligence

“Dad-of-two dies after doctors forgot to tell him he had deadly tumour”… “Woman left unable to breastfeed by surgeon’s unnecessary operations”… “Girl, 5, dies hours after doctor refused to see her because she was ‘four minutes late to emergency appointment'”.

These are the three headlines I’m talking about…

In the first, a dad-of-two died after doctors forgot to tell him he had a deadly tumour for three years.

Wayne Evans was suffering from severe stomach cramps when he was sent for tests. After hearing nothing back from his doctor, he assumed his results were normal.

However, three years later, Wayne’s health began to deteriorate rapidly and after visiting his doctor again, he was told only then that a mass had been discovered on his previous scan (three years before) and that he needed urgent care.

Unfortunately it was too late. The tumour was inoperable and the 41-year-old passed away shortly afterwards.

In the second incident, surgeon Ian Paterson exaggerated or simply “invented” the risk of cancer and carried out completely unnecessary operations to earn extra money.

Paterson is standing trial on 20 counts of deliberately wounding and causing grievous bodily harm to 10 of his patients… one of which will never be able to breastfeed and another who had a double mastectomy after being told he was “on the road to cancer” despite no evidence of malignancy.

As the state’s prosecutor Julian Christopher QC put it: “These were operations which no reasonable surgeon at the time would have considered justified, nor are we dealing with simple mistakes or incompetence.”

He added: “As a result, those patients and their families lived for many years with the belief that they could be very ill and underwent extensive, life-changing operations for no justifiable reason. Some have consequently developed quite serious mental health problems.”

But the last news article takes the cake: A five-year-old girl, Ellie-May Clark, died just hours after her doctor refused to see her because she was a few minutes late for an emergency appointment, after she suffered an asthma attack at school.

Ellie-May’s mother Shanice says they were four minutes late for the appointment, at which point Dr Rowe told the receptionist, ‘No I’m not seeing her, she’s late’, despite being aware of Ellie-May’s condition.

At 10.35pm, Shanice discovered Ellie-May having an asthma attack and found her not breathing. She was rushed to hospital but died shortly after.

A confidential NHS report revealed Dr Rowe’s handling of the incident and showed that the ‘root cause’ of the girl’s death was the doctor’s refusal to see her. Yet, Dr Rowe continues to practice after only being suspended on full pay for a short six months and receiving a written warning cautioning her behaviour.

Ellie-May’s grandmother, Brandi, told Mail On Sunday: “We’ve never even had an apology from Dr Rowe, who got away with just a slap on the wrist after her clock-watching attitude killed our beautiful girl.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tarring all doctors with the same brush. Not at all. But unfortunately, these three doctors are examples of how a few bad apples can spoil the entire cart… and sadly it is stories like these that make people wary of trusting their doctors.

After all, isn’t the foundation of modern medicine supposed to be ‘first do no harm’?


Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

Sources:

Dad-of-two dies after doctors ‘forgot to tell him he had deadly tumour’, published online 28.02.17, metro.co.uk

Surgeon accused of assaulting patients by carrying out ‘unnecessary’ breast cancer operations, published online 28.02.17, telegraph.co.uk

Girl, 5, dies hours after GP refused to see her because she was ‘four minutes late to emergency appointment’, published online 26.02.17, metro.co.uk

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  • I’m a nurse and I have to say a lot of the mistakes that are being made are often down to doctors and nurses being worked to near breakdown. Yes, we get paid to our job but that doesn’t mean we aren’t human. The damands of doing this kind of job are tremendous, especially when you work in a high functioning hospital environment. It’s probably a bit different if you are a GP in a small little village.

  • I had a virus in my brain and displayed similar symptoms as a stroke. While the ambulance was very quick to arrive at my house after I called 999, when I got to A&E I was left unattended for 4 hours. And it was not busy at all. In fact, I saw nurses fraternizing on their phones and with each other at the nurses station without a care in the world. Keep in mind that at this point the paramedics was still convinced that I was busy suffering a stroke. I checked myself out after thinking that the damage was done since no-one assisted me during the critical 3 hour window-period. I returned the next day and waited 9 hours to see a doctor. I was given an appointment for a brain scan 4 weeks later and guess what the hospital lost my scans. Eventually, I paid an arm and a leg to see a private holistic doctor who treated me like a human being, listened to me as a patient and most importantly got to the bottom of the problem and healed me. This would not have happened had I decided to stick with conventional doctors.

  • You are airing a rather strong opinion, but I guess there are many people who will agree with you. And that is fair enough. We hear horror stories of how the NHS is failing patients on a daily basis – so of course this is a reality for many people.

    But what about the good doctors – like the one you talk about in the beginning – who I am sure are still out there? Maybe you should write more articles about them?

    Just my opinion.

  • Thanks for this article. I think you speak of the experience that many patients have. Unfortunately, people are disillusioned by the medical profession… but then you have incidents like yesterday’s attack in London and the medical services acted very quickly to help those injured.

    I’ve come to believe that the medical services are only performing at their peak when there is a crisis like a terror attack – it’s the first-responders that are true heroes…

    sadly, this is not the case for all doctors.

  • As a doctor I’m saddened to read this article.

    I believe I work hard to treat my patients the best way that I can. I trust my knowledge and education to guide me to make the right diagnosis, but my hands are often tied with red tape and mountains of paperwork so I feel rushed and under pressure to perform. And of course I make mistakes. We all do, because we are human. But for some reason, doctors have been put on pedestals and we are seen as super-human and we have very little room for error. And I think this is very unfair.

    I also think the media focusses far too much on the bad news. It would be great to read an article once in a while that celebrates the successful services doctors provide to thousands of patients every day, instead of only hearing about the mishaps.

    Dr. Adam Crawley

    • I know not all doctors are bad and I know the medical services save lives. The bottom line is, it is your job and you and every other person in the medical profession chose this job and you need to do it well. That’s it. You shouldn’t do it because you are looking for praise because you ‘save lives’. It’s this “superior attitude” of many doctors that is part of the problem. Because many think they are invincible and cannot make mistakes and that patients know nothing. Well, if you have a pain in your balls like Bobbie and you tell your doctor about it then your doctor needs to listen and find the root of the problem. Not tell you to learn to live with it and eventually shrug your shoulders and say ‘oh well sorry you have cancer’. All doctors and nurses entered their profession knowing full well that if they mess up and don’t do their job properly people die. It’s tough but it’s true.

  • I’ve been suffering with really bad pains in testes. I saw my doctor about this many times and was told every time that I’ll just have to “learn to live with it…”

    Turns out I have cancer!

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