Five Fallacies That Medical Television Shows Use All the Time That Have Never Happened To Me

November 14, 2011 at 11:51 am (Medical) (, )

x-posted from Facebook; this started out as a rant in my head and wouldn’t let me rest until I posted it somewhere. After putting it on Facebook, I decided that it needed to live here, too.

5. Doctors share touching personal stories that somehow serve to both humanize the doctor, and give the patient insight into whatever it is they’re going through. I can barely get doctors to answer all of my questions, they’re so keen on making things short and keeping their emotional distance. My doctors have never shared details about their personal lives with me, even when I’ve asked direct questions about it.

4. Doctors become emotionally invested in their patient’s outcome, and that makes them work harder to solve difficult-to-diagnose cases. I find doctors are the first ones to throw their hands in the air and tell the patient, “I can’t find anything wrong.” If you’re lucky, they might refer you to a specialist who may or may not be able to figure something out, but even the specialists are quick to write you off. I find that doctors *hate* difficult-to-diagnose patients, and tend to label them with emotional problems faster than your head can spin.

3. Doctors see random family members in the hospital halls, and attempt to find out what’s wrong or discuss the case with them in any way. I find doctors in hospitals to be *on a mission*, and that mission usually involves ignoring most patients, much less their friends and family. My medical advocates and spouse have had to explain their relationship to me several times to the same doctors just to get them to respond to my needs, much less strike them up in general conversation about how *they’re* handling all of this.

2. Doctors treat pain until that pain is resolved. There is a ceiling to what doctors will give certain patients, when it comes to narcotics. I’m sure if I were a cancer patient (or had some other diagnosed termnal illness) my experience might be different, but when I ask for more or different pain killers I’m immediately labeled “drug seeking”. When I explain that I have a tolerance to narcotics because of my long term therapeutic use, they still give me minute doses of weak drugs at first. “Managed pain” is not the same thing as “pain free”, and many times my doctors are content if my pain is below an 8.

1. Everyone who goes into a hospital gets a definitive diagnosis and full treatment before they’re released. I’ve been to the hospital several times in the past few years for “observation” after some symptom has gotten out of hand – including scary things like elevated white blood cell counts, intense pain, and inability to keep food down – and after 2-3 days I am sent home with no answers and no follow up. Frequently, I am left to my own devices to seek an answer to whatever brought me to the ER; and since I don’t have a medical degree, I end up drifting from specialist to specialist before I give up.



  1. bearfairie said,

    Yes this, all of this. This mirrors my experiences as well.

    On #3 – HIPPA laws mean that unless a family member is actually a patient’s known legal health proxy, legally a medical provider *can’t* discuss a patient’s health issues with them, not unless the family member is physically present in the room and the patient has given explicit permission (possibly required in writing). So that particular medical drama trope is total nonsense.

    • dying for a diagnosis said,

      My doctors, at least the ones I see on a regular basis, all know my advocates. But I know about the HIPPA stuff. Maybe a written document they can carry is a good idea. Thanks for that!

  2. kitdoor said,

    #1 is so very true. A hospital may attempt to test for and/or rule out a short list of well-known things that may kill you or cripple quickly. But after all results are inconclusive, they will not keep trying, creatively coming up with different reasons for your symptoms and testing for each one. They will give you some liquids and maybe a Tylenol, and they will want you to go away and follow up with someone else, although they don’t know who, but not them, maybe your “family practitioner” or what ever… that’ll be $1000 now and will send you several more bills over next three years, for $500-$1000 each, even though we NEVER ACTUALLY HELPED YOU IN ANY WAY.

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