Posts Tagged healthcare

Are Doctors Nice Enough?

Posted by on Tuesday, 31 December, 2013
Funny cartoon about a "caring" doctor.



WHY are doctors so arrogant and uncaring !!!

“They just speak to you about your symptoms for 5 seconds then prescribe you medication for the wrong diagnosis without first checking you out!!! I’M SICK OF THEM, then they complain that you’re a hypochondriac because they weren’t able to treat you for the same problem in the first place!!! 
They ignore your real symptoms and only derive what they wrongly think is causing your troubles.”   – from a Yahoo Pain Management forum



Doctors should be “caring”.

Every day. Every minute.

Does it really matter if it’s been a long horrible day for the doctor? Isn’t a patient entitled to a dose of sympathy along with whatever treatment is prescribed?

Once upon a time, when doctors carried black bags, they clucked over you constantly. They were sympathy machines.

“My, my. That looks just terrible!,” they would say.

In those day, doctors were your best friend. They knew all the kids. they knew you before you got married. They knew your secrets. They were very wise.

Why did they cluck over you so much?

What else would he or she (oh let’s stop this she crap – it was always a he) do? A stem cell transplant? I don’t think so. They offered sympathy because, often,  it’s all they had to give.

I have to ask. Does this  still make sense?

You’re talking to a stranger. A busy, busy stranger. You’re the 18th patient and there are two waiting in other rooms while you get seen. I know you feel bad. I know a little sympathy would be nice. But can we be realistic for a minute? That guy doesn’t even like you. You’re not his friend. He’s trying to fix what’s wrong with you, okay? Isn’t that what should matter?

I’m just asking.

Evidently, doctors buy into this emotional fraud because I’m looking at an article from the journal Health Expectations which aims to teach doctors how to speak the language of compassion.

Oh boy! The language of compassion! If you don’t feel it, at least learn to sound like you do.

Ronald Epstein, M.D.( University of Rochester, Center for Communication and Disparities Research) was the lead guy.  He worked with a group of oncologists, studying how they interacted with  some very sick patients.  They  worked on tone of voice, ways of expressing tenderness and understanding, and so on. Non-verbal communication too. Were the pauses and sighs right? The pitch? The tone? Metaphorical language? You really don’t want to choose a clumsy metaphor.

Here’s the thing.

The physicians who are involved in this stuff ARE  caring. They’re putting themselves through all this because they want things to be good for their patients. They know it sucks to be sick and they want, somehow, to be more comforting.

But there’s a risk.

“Getting the script right” can be dangerous. People sense it when you aren’t “real”. It can backfire. I’ve worked with doctors most of my professional life and, honestly? I think they’re great. Not one real clunker among the many I know.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad thinks the emoting can be overdone.

Fix the disease.

That’s good enough for me.

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The drawing is mine.

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Posted by on Wednesday, 4 September, 2013


Diluting a substance


Crown Prince Interfering With The Health Service?

‘If he wishes to lobby ministers, he should stand for Parliament or join a lobbying firm, but he should not be using his position as heir to the throne to do it.” — – – Paul Flynn, Labor MP

Prince Charles has pissed off some of the big guns in the UK who are responsible for national health policy. They say he has been  meeting privately with  the UK’s Health Minister to get a more liberal policy on drugs. Specifically he wants them to keep  “homeopathic remedies” on the menu even though there’s no evidence that they work. According to the Mail, the prince’s active lobbying is wrong.


What the prince is into is strange stuff.   Homeopathic organizations are generally hostile to  regular doctors, regular hospitals, and regular drugs. Homeopaths excuse themselves from the need for all the usual scientific testing of their “elixirs”.  You either believe or you don’t. If you don’t it’s probably because you’ve been influenced by the “medical establishment”.

Here, in the US, homeopathic remedies are available all over the place. Look on the shelves of your drugstore. They look authentic but, if you inspect the package carefully, you will see that there probably aren’t any active ingredients. There’s  just water or just alcohol (sometime there is a faint amount of something else but nothing a doctor would ever think of as medicine).

The American Medical Association says these guys are  quacks.


Well, Prince Charles isn’t our problem. Years ago, Americans made it pretty clear how we feel about the monarchy. No need to rehash.


We’ve got our own issues with homeopathy.


A 1938 US law requires homeopathic stuff to be treated like any other over the counter medications.  This “allows” you to be  buying homeopathic remedies when you really thought  you were buying something that would cure your headache. The packages have an air of authenticity. You might need a magnifying glass to see that this  is a homeopathic “remedy”.

Maybe you think that drugstores have a duty to educate their customers about  products that lack any active ingredients or any proof of efficacy  but I guess  that’s not how the boss at the store  sees it. Drugstores “appreciate the business” and “respect consumer choice”.

Don’t get hoodwinked.  Water doesn’t fix headaches.


What is homeopathy? It seems to have originated  in 1796. Samuel Hahnemann had the idea that he should be able to cure a disease by a) figuring out what its symptoms are b) finding a  substance that caused “similar” symptoms (cinchona bark, for example, makes you feel woozy with symptoms similar to malaria) 3) weakening (diluting) the substance until it is basically gone 4) Giving what’s left of the original substance (or isn’t left) to the patient.

That’s it.

No seriously. That it. That’s the cure.

The odds are that, after the repeated dilutions,  there’s nothing left in the bottle but water or alcohol.  You spoon it out to the patient and he.she quickly recovers from vapours, consumption or, I suppose, prostate cancer.



Here’s how a homeopathic remedy is usually made. First you dilute the solution. Then, you knock the container against something a few times (succussion).  You do that over and over again. How many times seems to vary, depending on the recipe. Some practitioners don’t give the actual potion  to the patient. Instead they pin a piece of paper with the name of the active ingredient to the patient’s clothes, place it in the patient’s pocket, or position it under a glass of water which the patient than drinks.

You don’t believe me, right?  How could something like that work? Especially since the “cure” has nothing curative in it, Luckily, Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, had the answer for that one too. The water (or alcohol)  “remembers” the substance that used to be in it. Even though it is now gone completely.

Well that’s the theory.

Real stuff?


Scientifically, it’s nuts, right? But- you know what? If it works, it works.

Look,  if I didn’t know better,  I wouldn’t have seen the point of zapping a cancer patient with radiation. Or giving chemo which, after all, is pretty toxic. But it’s been shown that those things  can help – shown scientifically, that is.

I’m a pragmatist. If homeopathy works, all good then.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t! There is no evidence that would convince anyone but a crazy person (or a prince) that it does.

Here. Read this.

If that doesn’t convince you. Read this, okay?

The top doctor at England’s National Health Service has stated that homeopathy  is “rubbish”.

It is.

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The two drawings are mine. The photo was snapped in a chain drugstore.  I won’t name the store as I don’t imagine the owners would appreciate the publicity.