John A. McDougall, MD, is a physician and nutrition expert who considers himself a leader of public opinion and often finds it necessary to challenge the accepted wisdom of the time.
Dr. McDougall produces a newsletter over on his website. In the October 2011, vol. 10, issue 10, edition he writes about “How to Protect Yourself from Abusive Medical Doctors.” http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2011nl/oct/protect.pdf
I think the entire article is well worth the read but I will cover some of the more interesting parts here.
Dr. McDougall discuses a case where he has a patient named Marsha who has a history of precancerous changes in the tissues lining her uterus known as endometrial hyperplasia. Over 2 years her condition progressed to early stage cancer. Two surgeons whom she consulted with recommended a hysterectomy as the treatment.
Dr. McDougall has a telephone consultation with a young Obstetrician/Gynecologist. This doctor is described as being aggressive, inappropriate, and attempts to humiliate Dr. McDougall during the consultation. Dr. McDougall merely wanted to see the research that supported her recommended treatment of a hysterectomy.
Dr. McDougall requests for the Obstetrician/Gynecologist to send him scientific studies that reasonably show that surgery is beneficial. Articles are sent and Dr. McDougall reviews the articles and says he could see no benefit based on reading the papers sent. The Obstetrician/Gynecologist then says we will have to agree to disagree about our interpretation of the literature.
Dr. McDougall then makes a brilliant response by saying
“Excuse me. We will not agree to disagree with what the literature says. The science is clear. If you do not admit this fact and properly inform the patient of the lack of scientific support for your recommendation for surgery for her condition, I will send these communications between us to the patient. Furthermore, I will send a letter of complaint to your hospital, your state Medical Board, and your professional medical board.”
Dr. McDougall then explains to Marsha that no information could be provided that showed a survival benefit from surgery for early endometrial cancer. He then explains that based on his review of the literature he does not recommend surgery.
Dr. McDougall says
“When you see these doctors please demand an answer to at least this one crucial question: Is there any scientific evidence that your recommended treatment will prolong my life or improve the quality of my life? Please inform them (your other doctors) that I am one of your primary care doctors and that I would like to be involved in all communications.”
Dr. McDougall goes on to discuss how the Obstetrician/Gynecologist doesn’t waiver from her position that ‘cancer caught early, treated with a hysterectomy, leads to cure in most women (80% to 90%)’
Dr. McDougall goes on to say
“After at least seven years of post-college graduate medical education on the emotional, mental, and physical condition of the human being, you would expect a physician to be a powerhouse of goodwill for his or her patients. Unfortunately, too many doctors fail to keep the welfare of their customers at the forefront, as their main concern. The needs to boost their own egos, self-preservation, and the quest for more money often result in inappropriate care and harm the patient“
Dr. McDougall discusses how some doctors can mislead their patients by providing inaccurate and irrelevant statistics and facts that misrepresent the truth. He also discusses how the male dominated medical business disrespects women.
Dr. McDougall recommends that you use your family doctor/ internist as your advocate to communicate with other specialists and challenge them when necessary. Otherwise he recommends that the doctor provides scientific evidence to support any recommendation they make.
Similar type of information is even suggested by the federal government of the United States specifically the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). As discussed here http://blog.teethremoval.com/tips-to-prevent-medical-errors-ahrq/ due to Republican House majority interests back in the 1990’s many surgeries continue to be performed even without lack of clear benefit to prolong life and improve quality of life.
Therefore it is very important to do lots of research when you are considering any new medical treatment and use your family doctor as your advocate. Unfortunately due to the fact that family doctors don’t make nearly as much money as specialists there is a actually a shortage of family doctors right now the United States. This should come as no surprise.