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Forum Name: Endocrinology Topics

Question: Pain is not a priority?


 Dumbfounded - Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:40 pm

My aunt went to see an endocinologist today to review the results of her sonogram. I am incredibly disheartened and dumbfounded by the doctor's treatment of my Aunt.

The doctor didn't really see much and has ordered more tests, in the meantime my aunt is in constant pain and on a daily basis. When she mentioned this she was told by the doctor

"I'm not so worried about your pain, but fixing the problem"

My Aunt is a shy woman who seldom stands up for herself actually just let it go with that. I wish I was there to give him the whatfore.

Honestly when did someone's pain become a non-issue to treat? Whats the point of going to a doctor who blatantly blows off your concerns and feelings?

I want to hear your opinions about this, and also if you know of someone I can report this to I would greatly appreciate it.
 Dr. Shank - Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:17 pm

Dear Dumbfounded:

The endocrinologist may have been insensitive or socially inept, but I am not sure that he was quite as calloused as he sounded.

In the first place, the endocrinologist may be seeing your aunt as a consultant to another physician who is taking care of her other medical conditions. It would neither be right nor prudent for him to take over areas managed by the physicians who sent him the patient. Even if the physician who was managing her other conditions did not send her to the endocrinologist, the endocrinologist may not have wanted to risk offending a potential source of patients.

In the second place, you may be reading into his statement more than he said. He did not say that the pain was unimportant, but only that the pain was a symptom of some other problem that he was trying to identify and treat. This is much more commendable than merely treating the symptom while ignoring the underlying problem.

In the third place, many subspecialists limit there practices to their subspecialties. Not only do they want to avoid perceived competition with physicians who might refer to them, but they often feel that they have become out of date or have lost their skills in general internal medicine.

In the fourth place, very few physicians are still willing to accept the inconveniences and risks (from state medical boards, state pharmacy boards, and the DEA) of managing pain.

I doubt that this comment would be of disciplinary interest to anyone. Even if it were, I think that it would only be fair to the endocrinologist and in your aunt's best interests to clarify the roles of the endocrinologist and other physicians involved in her care.

Lest you think that I am automatically protecting another physician, let me tell you that I am an endocrinologist who changed from limiting my practice to my subspecialty to aggressively treating general medical problems, and that, by default, I have become the source for pain management for a lot of patients. It sounds like your aunt's endocrinologist has made a different set of decisions for his practice than I have, but his decisions are probably very rational for his practice situation.

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