How a medical expert can reach out to patients using the web
Posted Nov 18 2008 12:17am
Brachial plexus injury is a rare injury which sometimes occurs after birth. Obstetricians and pediatricians usually advise parents that they just need to "wait and watch" and the problem will resolve on its own. While this is forunately true for the majority of these children, there will be a minority who will suffer a life-long disability, because of severe nerve damage. This can be surgically corrected in these children, provided it is detected in time, and the children operated on early enough. Unfortunately, there are few experts who know much about this condition, as a result of which the parents are often misled by the well-meaning advise given to them by their pediatrician. In the past, as a result, these children would often end up receiving poor quality care; and by the time they reached a knowledgeable expert, a lot of time had been wasted. I recently met a plastic surgeon who had treated over 150 of these children, and he was complaining about how pediatricians refused to learn. By the time he treated these children, their nerves had already been irreparably damaged, and parents were understandably angry and upset with their pediatrician for not referring them earlier. When I asked him what he had done to try to improve the situation, he claimed that he had given numerous lectures on this topic to pediatricians at medical conferences, but few of them bothered to listen, because this was not a very "sexy" topic ! However, rather than complain about how poorly informed pediatricians were, he could have tried to redress the situation by trying to reach the parents directly. The internet provides an excellent method by which concerned parents can reach out directly to the expert, without having to wait for a referral from their local doctor ( who may know very little about such a rare condition). An excellent example of an expert is Dr Nath, who has done a brilliant job in reaching out directly to affected parents. This is a win-win situation. Affected parents can directly contact an expert for a second opinion; and the expert becomes even more expert as he accumulates even more experience in dealing with this specific problem ! Doctors have a responsibility to educate their patients - the word doctor is derived from the root "docere", which means " to teach". Why do so many of us do such a miserable job of it ?