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the family doctor Vs the FAMILY doctor

Posted Jan 06 2011 11:00am

I hate being the only doctor in the family. Aunts, grannies, nieces and friends of theirs all seem too keen to show me their bumps and bruises at any opportunity, in the hope of getting a quick diagnosis. I even had a relative show me his penis recently!

I hate this. Not because I don't understand their frustration at being stuck on a waiting list, or having to pay to see a GP. I hate it because I'm worried I'll get something wrong.

There's a meddling lady who lives near our family home, who brought her child around to my house when I was a 1st year medical student, and asked me to look at her injured shoulder. She'd fallen off a trampoline and landed on it. I'd never seen a broken shoulder before, and told her that.

"But what do you THINK might be wrong?"

I buckled and told her it didn't LOOK broken to me. But I told her I didn't know for sur, and that she should get it checked out in the emergency department.

IN her head that became "this shoulder is most definitely NOT broken, and there is no need to seek medical care for this child". Obviously, the pain persisted for a few days, and she got an x-ray....diagnosis = "broken" shoulder.

To this day she tells everyone who'll listen that it's a crime for me to be doing paediatric emergency medicine, as I can't even diagnose a broken shoulder.

So, today when my gran rang me to say she's getting "funny turns" I told her to see a doctor and she seemed disappointed that I wasn't offering a diagnosis. I don't want want to be that guy who can't even diagnose granny with x, y or z.

So, to the families of doctors out there, I ask you, on their behalf, to treat them like the clueless mucker you grew up with, and not as the professor of brain surgery that they actually are.

Happy new year to you all.

Dr. T


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