Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Rule of Medicine That Didn't Apply

I give out medicines gratis. Mostly, they’re cheap, but exceptions exist. For unclear reasons my supplier charges $17 for antibiotic ear drops but $1.50 for antibiotic eye drops. Experts agree that it’s OK to use antibiotic eye drops in the ear, so that’s what I do.

I felt pleased handing over a bottle to a lady with swimmer’s ear. Ear infections are easy visits, and guests appreciate that they do not have to hunt for a pharmacy.

My heart sank when the guest’s insurer called the following day. She wanted another visit. I phoned the guest who admitted that her ear was no worse, but now she had a fever, headache, and sore throat. That was disturbing. Had I missed something?

I returned to the hotel. She had a 102 temperature with swollen tonsils and swollen neck glands. Since she was barely out of her teens, Strep throat was a reasonable diagnosis.

It’s a rule of medicine that a doctor who makes two separate diagnoses is not thinking clearly. Patients have one thing, but this woman definitely had swimmer’s ear and Strep throat. 


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