Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When a Doctor Sees a Doctor, Part 1

You might believe that doctors deliver better care to other doctors, but I’m not sure that’s true. It might be worse.

As a hotel doctor, I’d rather not care for a guest who happens to be a physician. For one thing, he’s likely to hint that I shouldn’t charge him.

He’s also less likely to give up his authority. Non-physicians often tell me their diagnosis and the proper treatment. Sometimes they’re right, but they rarely object if I disagree. They assume I know more than they do. When physician hotel guests tell me their opinion on the initial phone call, I’m tempted to let them have their way and avoid a housecall. Once in the room, I’d rather not be treated as a colleague. 

When I go to new doctors, I never reveal my profession (under “work” I write “self-employed”). They’re supposed to ask, but it’s not a priority.

My current dermatologist doesn’t know I’m a doctor, so I listen patiently to many explanations that aren’t necessary, but that’s fine with me. I want her to treat me like everyone else. After five years, my family doctor casually asked what I did for a living, and I could detect his surprise when I answered. But I’m satisfied with the medical care he delivers. On the rare occasion he makes a suggestion that I disagree with, I behave like any other patient. I keep my mouth shut and ignore it.

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