Health Care News & Discussion
Your Personal Physician
06/04/1998 2:03 PM
Everyone should have a personal physician. Don’t get sick without one for the life you save could be your own. When you find one that you trust and are comfortable with, don’t let go. When you see another doctor or specialist, don’t let him do anything unless you first go back and discuss his recommendations with your own doctor. Don’t ever change insurance plans that require you to change doctors.
Let me tell you about Mr Bacon who was 78 years old and healthy. He never had any operations and only one significant medical problem his entire life.
Mr Bacon developed some bloating and discomfort in his abdomen. On the advice of a friend, he went to a surgeon. The surgeon found that Mr Bacon’s gallbladder wasn’t working. Since there were no gallstones, he suspected a cancer and recommended major surgery to remove not only the gallbladder but also the adjacent bowel, stomach, liver and pancreas.
The surgeon was surprised that he couldn’t find any cancer during the operation and proceeded with the skillful task of removing the nonfunctional gallbladder and adjacent structures and putting things back together. Unfortunately, this hookup didn’t heal. In fact, he had to operate three more times to redo some of the connections. After six months, the patient was finally able to go to a convalescent hospital.
His wife came in and cried about this horror story. She felt badly about not returning to the primary doctor to discuss her husband’s options before the operation. She said he really wasn’t doing that badly and the pain didn’t bother him all that much. In fact, Mr Bacon was “putzing” around in his garage playing his favorite tapes and CDs the day before the surgery. He will never do that again.
The point not to be missed is that the personal doctor would probably have put things in perspective and advised a period of watchful waiting. Many patients would prefer to have a year of enjoyable life over several years in a convalescent hospital. And in these times of saving medical costs, it would have saved Medicare about $800,000.