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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Destroyed in Seconds

There is a show on the Discovery Channel called Destroyed In Seconds.  Essentially, the program shows video footage of disasters that seem to have come out of nowhere.  In one episode, the viewers could enjoy a helicopter crash that happened with shocking rapidity.  In another episode, a speed boater loses control of his craft and in an instant is gone.

In medicine, good relationships can evaporate in seconds as well and we seldom see it coming.  In this first episode of "Destroyed in Seconds: Urology Edition" I am going to present some instances where a perfectly good doctor-patient relationship can get "destroyed in seconds."

  • A previously passive patient receives an unexpected bill and calls the office ranting and raving about it: relationship destroyed in seconds.
  • A patient receives an unexpected phone call regarding the need for additional pre-surgical testing and is inconvenienced.  His frustration and vehemence gets turned upon staff and you and the relationship is destroyed in seconds.
  • A patient being followed for rising PSAs is told by a "friend" that he should have been biopsied and he accuses you of negligence: relationship destroyed in seconds.
  • Above patient has biopsy done by you and is negative for cancer: relationship restored in seconds.
  • Above patient has terrible complication from above biopsy that you initially advised against and relationship destroyed in seconds.
Medicine is a crazy business.  We walk a fine line between hero and goat. 

And any doctor patient relationship can be "Destroyed in Seconds."

(Disclaimer: the above examples are fictitious and do not represent actual encounters.  Any similarities are purely coincidental."