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As you may have heard me say before, not all doctors are saints.  Patients often tend to revere doctors — of which I heartily approve! But as with any group there are always bad apples.  And if not all of the apples are bad, there are also incompetent ones.  Sometimes they are well-meaning.  Sometimes they are just hoping nobody catches on so they don’t lose their livelihood. But I am definitely NOT anti doctor, anti medicine, anti prescriptions or anti anything else.  I know there is good and bad everywhere. Unfortunately, in medicine, the bad or the incompetent can mean the death or suffering of innocent people.

I write about one such case in my private opt-in subscription newsletter — which just went out in the email.  If you aren’t on my mailing list, you haven’t seen it — I’ll gladly send you the preview issue if drop me an email at docteurg@docteurg.com.  Like everything else, the field of medicine is rapidly changing and those who don’t keep up get left behind.

When I was in medical school, a professor told us that everything we were learning would quickly be obsolete.  That meant a doctor must be dedicated to a lifetime of learning — keeping up with new advances in the field.  That means reading medical journals, participating in Continuing Medical Education (which is a requirement for renewing our licenses every two years) and making sure we get the latest news on what is being developed in our particular field. Alas — not all doctors do that.  I know a great many who haven’t kept up with anything new since graduating medical school and going to work on living human beings. And it is no secret that most doctors fudge the requirements for continuing education.  After all — it is on the Honor-System.

The saving grace (for negligent and incompetent doctors) is that they are very unlikely to be sued for malpractice or wrongful death.  It is relatively simple to cover up errors and there is usually a lot of complicit help from colleagues and superiors so as to avoid bad publicity and expensive law suits. Also, by putting most of our citizens on public health care (which we continue to escalate) we take away more risk.  People who are low-income and those in mental health are least likely to sue.  I can’t tell you how many doctors have told me, “Don’t worry, these patients never sue!” As if that is the main thing to worry about! I worry at night (ask my husband) about patients not getting the right care, or enough care, or being able to come back for economic reasons. What is surprising is that there are not more stories like the one in my newsletter — although we have no way of knowing.

For those who don’t get my newsletter, you can send me an email and request one (free — no obligation to subscribe).  If you like what you read, though, and want to continue, I will have instructions for you to be able to opt-in — and opt-out whenever you like.  No advertising, no follow-up spam mail, and I don’t share, sell or otherwise reveal my mailing list. Since my entry into private practice some 25 years ago or so, I adopted a motto — “I love my patients well.” I only wish more of my colleagues had such dedication. And I value, honor and treasure those doctors who do follow the high road and give patients the best care they can — the best care they deserve.

Is it any reason I’m known as
The Renegade Doctor
Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD

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