So the last blog post featured the almighty term, diagnosis. I think there is a general lack of understanding by the public on how important a concept diagnosing is to the medical community. To reiterate what was said before, diagnosing is almost entirely the realm of the medical doctor. Physicians literally spend years researching, learning and practicing so that they can accurately make a diagnosis of a problem along with running through the proper tests to confirm or refute a diagnosis. This is a serious business because without a diagnosis there cannot be an effective treatment and without an effective treatment the problem will likely continue or simply become an unresolved issue that could develop further. There are also areas outside of medicine that require accurate diagnosis such as insurance, legal counsel, social workers and government agencies. There is quite a bit riding on a doctor’s ability to give an accurate diagnosis.
Now before I get too far along with this post, keep in mind that a diagnosis is really an educated guess by the doctor. There is a harsh truth here in that science is part of medicine, but medicine is not a science. While the doctor is looking to narrow down the possibilities, there does come a point where he has many options and he is simply selecting the most likely with the hopes the treatment succeeds. Hence the reason follow up is so important and why nurses are so adamant in watching a patient after treatment is given. Truth be told this has formed the frame work of the nursing process whereby a treatment is given and then evaluated for effectiveness. Physicians want to make sure their treatment is working before releasing someone from their care or giving them the “thumbs up” to go back to normal life. If you have ever been admitted to the hospital for observation then you now know the reason, the doctor wants to make sure she guessed right or that the treatment isn’t going to hurt the patient.
From here I will give a little bit of a soapbox speech on self-diagnosis.
We all, understandably, like to take a guess at what is going on with our bodies. Play doctor a bit to see how close we can get to the truth. The problem is when this game develops into extensive research, alteration of reported symptoms and pressure on the doctor for treatment. This is when self-diagnosis has become a problem. A physician has well over a decade of training in most cases. Even the lowly resident has years dedicated to research, study and practice. These are not amateurs no matter how silly, stupid or uneducated they may come across. On top of this each resident seeing a patient is also reporting their findings to a more senior doctor. I have heard the stories of people going into the doctor’s office knowing what they have, being ignored and then wham this was exactly what they said it was. The thing is people don’t tell the stories of people that wasted time, money and energy having the doctor chase down phantom symptoms that were not there and the patient only thought they experienced because they thought they had a certain diagnosis. This happens more than the former.
Now do not think I am asking you to simply stand on the sidelines of your own care. Far from it actually. Be aware of your body because after all, nobody spends more time with your body than you. Only you can tell the nurse and the doctor what is wrong. Even a simple, “I just don’t feel right, something is wrong” speaks volumes. So be aware of your body and of what is wrong when you go to the doctor. Be forward and upfront with the medical team in charge of your care. Also be knowledgable of any current medical conditions, diagnosis and medications you are using. That is the time to start looking things up and becoming informed so that you can better manage your own care. Remember the goal of the nurse and the doctor is to get you, the patient, to a point of self-care and management. Also, while I do not recommend pressuring the doctor for treatment, make sure the physician knows what works and doesn’t work for you and your body.
So here I will go on the soapbox again in regard to advice from others. Advice is great, advice is wonderful, diagnosis is not. Unless your neighbor has a medical license they are willing to stake on their diagnosis, then do not take their words to be one. As cold as this sounds, if someone is not willing to give you their medical license number then they are not investing much in their words. Every diagnosis and treatment a doctor gives out involves his/her license, which is their livelihood and what they have worked so hard to acquire. The neighbor, the girl down the street, the one at the herb shop and the nameless box on the internet screen are not investing that into their diagnosis and recommendations. Keep that in mind when considering whose advice to regard as more important. A doctor is quite literally putting their livelihood on the line when they tell you something; Joe Blow would just feel bad if he was wrong about that being a cough.
So far as Elliquiy goes, I am sure the staff will back me up on this. If you have a medical problem the only response anyone should give you is, “Go see a doctor.” That is it and that is all. Even me, because here is another word of truth, anyone that says different either doesn’t have a license or shouldn’t. There is no medical professional that will risk their license diagnosing and treating someone over the internet. By treatment I also mean recommending Tylenol, Ibuprofen, over the counter medications and such. In truth even “herbal” and home remedies can be problematic and I encourage people to exercise caution when discussing and recommending them. I know people mean no harm, but harm can still result. The reason behind this caution is quite simple, you don’t know them. You are not physically seeing the symptoms, not aware of their medical history and not aware of their current lifestyle regiment. So for instance…
Someone on Elliquiy says, “Hey Pumpkin, you are so awesome with your medical blog and you’re a nurse so what should I do about this pain on my foot. My toe hurts and feels like I have a sore there.” I, having a moment of sudden stupidity, respond with a recommendation for new shoes. I am not aware that you have diabetes, I am not aware that your toe is cold and your capillary refill is sluggish and I am not aware that your sore is actually an open wound. A month later your toe is black, being amputated and you have vascular issues. So yeah, please…see a doctor if you think it’s important enough to go digging through forums and asking for advice.