Unless you yourself are a medical professional, from time to time you need to go to a doctor. Hence, the work doctors do is both notable and necessary.
Here is the issue: sometimes there are financial incentives that distract from the purpose of a doctor’s job—to take care of people. For example, if they do not find it entirely necessary, sometimes doctors forgo costly examinations.
My question is, under what circumstances is this OK?
Namely, when is it OK for a doctor to use their own judgment, and not perform a formal test? Let me tell you my dad’s story to give you some perspective on where my concerns come from.
In 2002, my father recognized a lump on the side of his right calf. Naturally, this was concerning and prompted an evaluation by his primary care physician at Kaiser Permanente. The physician looked at it and on the basis of its appearance, concluded it was a fatty tumor.
From 2002 to 2006, my father visited his same physician four times to have him assess the tumor. It had progressively increased in both size and pain. Yet, despite these concerning symptoms and lack of documentation. The doctor maintained his diagnosis.
In 2008, the tumor had become so painful that my father demanded a course of action. Without any sound evidence to affirm the tumor as benign, his physician removed it non-surgically. It was drained and temporarily reduced in size.
In 2010, the tumor grew back to its original size and his physician presumed normality.
By the end of 2013, the tumor had grown to the size of a grapefruit. And still, the doctor thought it to be normal.
By 2014, my family urged my father to seek an alternative professional opinion. Within an hour of being in the new physician's office, a biopsy was done.
A week later, my father was diagnosed with stage 3 sarcoma.
The question remains: was this a simple mistake or a misdiagnosis/negligent diagnosis?
Medical diagnoses, among many things, uniquely identify human beings in a way that is completely out of our control. That is, you get to choose if you are a singer or a dancer, but you do not get to choose the natural course through which you body develops. While one can strive for good-health through proper nutrition and regular exercise, not everything in our bodies is controllable. The natural development of each human body is inevitable and we, as laymen, rely on physicians to inform us.
Furthermore, it is the responsibility of a physician to provide us with the imperative service of healthcare. Doctors attend many years of additional schooling in order to learn the proper approach to constructing diagnoses; therefore, if an ignorant patient should seek advice and assistance with understanding his/her body, a physician’s diagnosis is vital.
Also, the affirmation of a doctor’s knowledge heavily relies on medical resources, such as tests and technology, which can only be interpreted by said trained doctors. Consequently, to emphasize, patients do not have direct access to the knowledge and specific tests that doctors have and thereby heavily rely on the presence of a physician.
There are more things to be considered in order to arrive at a conclusive answer. Yet, I am of the opinion that negligence is much more than a speculation in my father's case.