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“I had two whiteboards filled up with questions left unanswered, tests left undone, and every other question we could think of,” Amber wrote on her Facebook page that day. Amber says that at one point during that meeting, she told the staff she felt like they “don’t give a f***,” later apologizing for her language. She also asked for a second doctor to stop taking care of their daughter. … When hospitals and families get into intense conflict, Hallisy, a dentist who practices in San Francisco, says human emotions can run amok. She says she saw it happen when her daughter, Katherine, was being treated for cancer. “People think that doctors are immune to petty disagreements, but they’re human beings, and sometimes ego and primitive emotions take over,” she said. By Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield, CNN Health, Fri August 17, 2018, Teen accuses world-famous hospital of ‘medical kidnapping’

I had tried to reschedule a medical appointment as it conflicted with the travel plans I had. When I talked with the medical scheduler, she said I shouldn’t wait until after my travel. And, she emphasized, that I can’t do it right before I traveled because the “Doctor probably wouldn’t allow travel” after the procedure. What, I thought, am I having done that requires all these restrictions? I had had a cyst removed and my Doctor had called me to say that after getting the tests results back that they wanted to do an additional procedure “just to be sure” due to “suspicious cells.” I called up and got the nurse practitioner who had been part of removing the cyst and asked her what did I have. She seemed flustered and then annoyed that I was asking questions. After using words such as “this is just normal procedure” she finally practically yelled in exasperation “you have cancer!” No one else had said the “cancer” word until this moment.

I later came to understand that they were indeed just following a standard of care and a procedure for when they found suspicious cells. But I also came to realize that my “experts” didn’t really know the ins and outs of why that standard of care existed. They only seemed to know generic medical words to throw about and when asked specific questions, didn’t have answers. The real problem kicked off in this case because a non-medical person, the scheduler, had offered a medical-sounding opinion on why or why not I could change the appointment. However, this opened the door for me to talk to the medical folks, and their apparent inability to explain what they were doing was worrisome. I finally was called by the chief dermatologist and we sat down and had a discussion about what I had and what they were going to do.

It seemed “suspicious cells” was the medical way of saying “suspicious of cancer” without worrying the patient that they have cancer until they confirmed it. But, it seemed, the procedure was not to confirm cancer. Instead, the procedure was to take out more skin, using the plastic surgery department, until no more suspicious cells could be found. The bombshell was when the dermatologist admitted to me that whenever there was inflammation in the skin, something that was very common for a lot of non-cancer reasons, that it always produced cells that were also associated with cancer — the suspicious cells. To “play it safe” they just treated them all as cancer and ordered additional surgery. And the nurse practitioner telling me I had cancer? Well, that shouldn’t have happened nor should the scheduler have offered her opinion the way she had. I ended up not having the additional surgery, against the recommendation of the chief dermatologist, based upon this whole experience and the realization that the procedure was not really about cancer.

There are certain experts that we have a tendency to put a lot of our trust into especially medical doctors, and lawyers. While we use experts because they know things we don’t know, it has always been my experience that I needed to know enough so that I could manage the expert or in this case understand the expert’s recommendation. Otherwise, I would be really flying blind and relying on someone who was not responsible for getting the results I was ultimately responsible for (e.g., my health, my project). Knowing enough to sort through the expert’s recommendations and their attached ego and primitive emotions, goes a long way towards ensuring our health and our projects are successful.

Compare with why we don’t need all those experts and how to manage when experts make mistakes

What are you doing to ensure that your experts are providing solid advice and not just doing what is safe and routine for them?

Thank you for sharing!