I want to share a post I made today on the advanced prostate cancer online support group (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/advancedprostatecancer). It was in response to an ongoing thread with a spouse (caregiver) who was fired by her husband’s doctor by having his nurse call them. She was guilty of asking questions, relevant and important ones, but the doctor was not interested in feeling that his judgment was being called into question. She reported that she was angry, but also feeling that perhaps she had failed her husband.
The following was my response to her concern:
First, I want to say what you already know. You have not failed (name deleted), you very possibly have saved his life!
I don’t know what your actual nursing experience had been, but I am sure if you did clinical nursing you most probably saw some failures from the doctors. They are just human like all of us, but a small number think they are a little better, a little smarter. Sadly, some medical education instills this belief. A doctor who will not accept or even listen to a question about their opinion (opinion- a belief, not necessarily the truth) is not only potentially dangerous, but just a poor doctor. I do not know your former doctor, so I am not making any statement about him as either a person or a doctor, but your opinion of him must be your guiding light. Perhaps, he did you a favor by firing you.
It is our job to push and probe our doctors to be sure they have spent adequate time thinking about what is best for us. It is their job to educate us and consult with us to bring us into a decision-making role. Of course, it is our option to agree 100% with their suggestions or perhaps to insist on a different plan of attack. At the end of our appointment we go home with the end result, whether it is positive or negative, they go home to play golf, watch TV or go on vacation.
Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.