Do You Trust Your Doctor
Posted Tue, Dec 1, 2009

Today I saw a new patient. She is female, educated, economically stable, about 54 years old. Several months ago she sought treatment for spider veins on her legs. She went to a … laser clinic. The clinic treated her with some injections and some lasers and they burned her skin and her spider veins remained. So she decided what she needed to do was go to a … vein clinic. That doctor did a Doppler test and told her the last doctor treated the wrong veins. What she has are varicose veins and his tests prove it and he can do surgery on her and all the veins will go away. Best of all he will bill insurance and he is sure they will cover her expenses. Today I examined her from head to toe. She is an athletic, trim, muscular female with not a single varicose vein in either of her legs. (For any who might not understand I conclude the vein doctor is guilty of false diagnoses, potential mail fraud, insurance fraud, and at the least patient abuse.)
Now I ask myself, “why would an intelligent person go to a laser doctor or a vein doctor to treat any problem?” Has anyone checked if there is board certification with special knowledge of the circulatory system for laser doctors or vein doctors? If I wanted a carpenter to repair my home and I knew he would use a hammer would I go to a hammer clinic to get help? If I wanted a plumber to repair my leaking pipes would I go to a pipe clinic to get help? Then why would anyone who does not like the appearance of spider veins on her legs go to a laser clinic or a vein clinic without even knowing what was wrong. OK, OK. So she figured out the vein doctor might be milking her for an ill-begot fee. Why was she there anyway?
Here we have a dichotomy of problems. More and more doctors are unethical. You have every right not to agree. It just happens to be true. More and more doctors “doctor” the diagnosis or “doctor” the treatment to get the most money they can from the insurance company or from the patient. When lawyers, politicians, judges, teachers, religious leaders and the rest of society are more and more overtly unethical should anyone be surprised that more and more doctors are unethical? Like the doctors at 2 of the major University Hospitals in Chicago who got caught billing for services that were never rendered and the government levied fines for Medicare abuse that you never read about. Like the doctors who hawk diet programs that at best don’t work or at worst harm people. Like spas that perform surgery (I never knew a spa could have a degree let alone a license to practice medicine).
And at the same time we have patients who do not want to take responsibility for their care, who do want something for nothing as in “bill it to my insurance”, and who do not want to be their own health care advocate. On the one hand patients do not trust the system so that they refuse to enter into cancer trials which save lives and on the other hand they entrust their welfare to gimmicky phrases like “laser clinic”, medical spa (an oxymoron?), and longevity clinic (are there doctors who do not promote longevity for their patients).
Now, I think I can explain the evolution of this problem. Trouble is, that does not solve the problem. So once again I suggest the best way to find a doctor is:
• Use the advice of other doctors whom you trust
• Use the experience of friends and family
• Research the doctor through the internet, the local hospital, the state
• Interview the doctor to make sure you communicate well with each other
• When in doubt get a second opinion from a doctor in a different community
Edward Lack MD

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Edward Lack
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.


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