Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, Personal Conviction

Medical Training: What Are the Patient’s Rights

It’s interesting when things I’m reading and watching on TV come together and make me begin to question what’s going on for patients in the hospital.  I’m reading Christine Montross’ book “Body of Work”.  It’s her story of going to medical school and her experience in the anatomy lab.  This book is not good reading for those with a queazy stomach.  The TV show I’ve got on my DVR is “Hopkins” following med students, interns, residents and attending physicans at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

I have lots of friends who are doctor’s and nurse practitioners.  Overwhelmingly I’ve been told don’t go to the hospital if not an emergency in July because the new medical graduates are prowling the floors looking for procedures to add to their repertoire (just watch Grey’s Anatomy/ER or any other medical drama).  This is particularly true in teaching hospitals, but you should be aware that the doctor examining you, now, the 2nd of September may only be out of school for two months.

I understand that new doctors need to learn, but isn’t it important that patients understand their rights when it comes to who performs procedures.  “Hopkins” showed a new resident removing fluid from an older woman’s lung and in the procedure punctures her lung requiring surgery.  She then requires that a “real doctor” (which the resident is) perform any further procedures.

Dealing with hospitals is traumatic enough without having to question the experience of the person performing a procedures.  As your own health advocate it’s perfectly fine to ask about the doctor’s credentials. How many times have they performed the procedure, what are the risks and if the person is new to the procedure who will be there to oversee the procedure should there be a problem.

I’ve had physicians who were just out of residency, but not just out of medical school.  Every profession has a training ground, but we’re usually informed and have to give consent not only to the treatment, but to understanding that the person is in training.  When I was doing my psychotherapy internship while in graduate school, all the clients were informed that we were graduate students and not only did we have minimal training, but the sessions would be reviewed by our practicum supervisor.  True, we weren’t in a life or death situation, but the standards should be equivalent, don’t you think?

Have you had any experiences that where you’ve had to advocate for yourself to get the care you want?  Share your experience and let others learn from your courage and self-advocacy.