I have been wary of doctors 97.5% my life due one that attended me when I was badly burned at the age of two due to an accident I caused in my curiosity of a big pot of potatoes my grandmother was boiling. He told my parents “…don’t waste your money on a hospital. No kid that badly burned ever makes it.”
What this “man of medicine” did not know was that burned children in hospitals were dying of staphylococcus infections as the hospitals were reservoirs of the bacillus. Keeping me out of that environment saved my life, along with having a mother who sat with me all night determined not to let me die. Mothers have the purest form of utter will.
Thus, it is not surprising to me that a new study finds nine of ten people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor get an opinion that is contrary, if not totally opposed the first diagnosis!
Mayo Clinic researchers studied 286 patient records for people who consulted second other doctors to determine whether there was a concurrence with 90% finding there was not!
The study analyzed records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period and found second opinions only agreed 12 percent of the time! Why should this be in our day of leading medical science?
In the first case, medicine is not science. Science is experimental and medicine is “practice.” The practice of what is known to work and nothing more. There is lag in the “cutting edge” of medicine and practice, but apparently there is also a critical lag. Doctors in the field are years behind the “state of the art.” They are not paying attention to progress in their own field, but the history of medicine is rife with intellectual ossification.
Even more shocking: 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what the first doctor concluded! Adding this fact that health insurance companies limit patients to visit specialists, this figure is alarming in implications.
Primary care physicians are usually over confident of their diagnoses in spite of several studies showing doctor errors are the second leading cause of death and we have a real crisis in medicine and particularly medical education. Graduating with a stethoscope around your neck is not enough. Doctors should never get out of school and the only way to solve this problem is to have continual, regular testing of doctors to be sure they know the present parameters of medical practice! “Where is the cutting edge?” It damn well be one inch from your nose, doctor! The fact today is our doctors do not know today!
Where diagnosis is essentially a quizzing or game process, and by “game” we do not mean entertainment, but choices, this is a perfect place for artificial intelligence. Thus our future health is in technology. Your cell phone will replace your primary care doctor!
The study was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.
Hippocratic Oath: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html