Thursday, September 23, 2010
calling dr. welby
Who am I to judge? I don't have a medical degree of any kind, but I do pay attention to the world around me. I try to be informed. I listen to the stories of the people in my life and in my care. I consult my father (a retired physician) when I need to, and my son-in-law, fairly fresh out of med school, too. I think I have some common sense, and I wasn't born yesterday.
Last week a parishioner was admitted to the hospital with a fever and a diagnosis of diverticulitis with a tiny perforation in her colon. Mega doses of antibiotics were given to her while the doctor "considered the options." "I don't practice aggressive medicine," he told her. "Let's wait and see what happens." Alarm bells are going off in my head. For one thing, my favorite aunt died from just such a situation, but I have done my best to keep that in perspective. Sunday, day six of "Jane's" hospital stay, I asked her if she was okay with the passive course of treatment. She said yes, she trusted her doctor. But dang it all, her temperature was back and she was still in pain. HELLO!! Anyone paying attention? We learned late yesterday that Tuesday she had surgery. A massive infection had set in in her colon and now in place of a colon she has a colostomy bag. I am beyond upset about this.
A week ago, following a diagnosis of cancer in the left kidney and bladder, "Ron" had a procedure that we understood was going to be to go after the cancer in the bladder. Turns out it was just a biopsy to see how far the cancer had spread in the bladder. Performed by his doctor. There has been no referral to an oncologist. The doctor doesn't think a pet-scan (feel free to correct the spelling, I've only heard the word, never seen it in print) is necessary. Hmm. Ron is 82 years old, and the course of treatment just might be impacted by knowing if there are cancer cells rummaging around elsewhere in his body. Ken and I are ready to pull our hair out!
I have been very fortunate in my life to have been exposed to high standards of care when it comes to people and animals, so my own expectations for care are likewise high. What I am seeing lately does not come close to quality, and it certainly doesn't look anything like care. Sign me up to join more fervently in the health care debate.