When You Write To Me About Medical Problems...
- Many of you have written to me regarding medical problems
you, or your loved ones, have experienced. Please realize
- I cannot make decisions for you.
- I cannot practice medicine long-distance and would be
at legal risk were I to try.
- Much as I would like, I can not diagnose and treat you
without speaking with you, examining you, and, when
necessary, ordering specific tests, including imaging
- When you express a desire to know more about an illness or
disease rather than (unrealistically) wanting me to manage
the case, I do try to respond with some general information,
when my time permits.
- The problem with general information is exactly
that — the information is general and may not
apply to your specific situation. Such
information thus could mislead rather than
- My own experience is that when patients ask for more
“information,” many are actually expressing fears or
deep concerns that mere Internet surfing cannot even
begin to address.
- The key is to speak with your own doctor.
He/she is actually in the best position to
answer your medical questions.
- There are lots of reasons I have heard why
people do not ask their doctors questions,
- So far, every reason I have ever heard has
been a lousy one.
- As far as I am concerned, there are
no good reasons for withholding questions or
information from your doctor.
- If your doctor cannot or will not explain matters
to your satisfaction, then try switching doctors!
This may not be so easy in the current new health
care environment, but you should try anyway.
- If you don’t have your “own” doctor, then call
the best hospital in your area and make an
- If you are interested in medicine and diseases,
then a visit to the library (or a medical shool
bookstore!) is appropriate.
- Some patients wind up doing so much reading that
they become experts on their own illnesses. And
that is fine with me and all the doctors I know.
- There are websites that do provide useful information.
I even list some, but certainly not all, of these
on my own website.
- Having said that, I don’t think that surfing the
’net is a substitute at this point in time for
4 years of medical school, 5 or more years of
residency, and many years of dealing with patients
and their families face to face. That is my opinion
- Bottom line — If you have medical questions, ask your
doctor. If you don’t have a primary care giver, then
please go get one. Your life may depend on it.
revised — December, 1999
reviewed — December, 2002
Home Page —>
Points of view —>