Dating your physician

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But over my 30 years as a doctor, I've seen hundreds of patients with abnormalities on their test results that don't correlate with their symptoms and yet people are treated - or not given treatment - solely on these results. Your doctor examines you and refers you for an MRI scan because you might have a slipped disc.Indeed, the MRI shows there is a slipped disc, but its location doesn't exactly correspond to the pain.Having worked in hospitals for more than two decades, including serving as medical director of the A&E department of a large teaching hospital in New York, I can tell you unequivocally that unless you are in mortal danger, stay away from hospitals.

We're taught to follow 'protocols' and 'evidence-based medicine', and ignore patients' feelings and opinions (the very essence of humanity) in search of the diagnosis that emerges exclusively from lab reports, test results and 'objective findings' that may have no bearing on the human being in front of them.

Nearly 30 years on, I've relived that moment over and over again. I think what matters more is the kindness with which we choose to live our lives - and I'd like to think this is what my patients experience with my care now.

I suspected then, and I am certain now, that what I did was not the right thing, nor was it what modern medical practice should be. The decent way to handle that situation would have been to sit down with the husband and tell him his wife was going to die; to allow husband and wife to be together for the few hours she had left in the privacy of a quiet room. The problem with modern medicine is that it doesn't train doctors to see patients as individuals.

And the only way to do that was to get an angiogram - where special dye is injected into the arteries to reveal any problems with blood flow.

However, that incident became a tipping point in my life.

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