Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dismissive Surgeon

I had my consultation with a surgeon about my gallstones today. Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the guy. He was very dismissive of my concerns — "Don't bother reading studies, they're all crap, there's practically no risk, none of my patients have ever complained, I hesitate to even mention these risks because I don't want to put them in your head, so let's schedule the surgery!"

I'm mostly convinced that I'm going to have to get my gallbladder removed, based on what I've heard from doctors and what I've read online. But, as far as I can tell, there are some risks involved (particularly the possible long-term side effects such as chronic diarrhea or pain). I could believe that the risks are low and that it's still the best option I have... but I want a doctor who's honest about this stuff, not dismissive.

As Forrest pointed out, he's not just the guy doing the surgery, but also the guy I'll have to work with if I have any post-operation concerns. And I really just don't get the warm fuzzies from this guy.

So I think I'm going to shop around for a different Seattle gallbladder surgeon.


John Cowan said...

Well, surgeons want to cut, I mean, that's why they become surgeons. "The surgeon regards himself as the one who cures with the stroke of the knife, scorning the internists' pills, promises, prayers, and post-mortems; while the internist views himself as the true physician and healer, who turns to the surgeon only when there is cutting and sewing to be done." --Alan E. Nourse (writing as "Dr. X"), Intern.

But yes, you definitely don't want this surgeon. The last two surgeons I dealt with were very straight about all this: "1 in 8000 risk of this, 1 in 10,000 risk of that." I'd much rather hear even quite a long list of low-probability horrors than put up with the arrogance of "None of my patients have ever complained"! (They probably wouldn't dare, even if he cut the wrong leg off.)

Another good question for a surgeon: "How many of these have you done, and when was the last one?" If the answers aren't "a lot" and "last week", find someone else.

Ben said...

wow... I had no idea! I have found that you do want a surgeon you can talk to (also a good hospital to do it in). If you don't feel comfortable, get a different one!

Squirrelette said...

Yes -- go with your gut and switch doctors, esp. if you will inherit this bozo for post-op queries.

I cannot TELL you how much stress I had dealing with my (now former) oncologist, esp. since I'd've had her For. The. Rest. Of. My. Life.

By contrast, my SO and I immediately got a good feeling from the surgeon, and ditto for my initial meeting with my NOW-onco.

Good luck,