How to tell if Your Doctor is an Egomaniac

How to tell if Your Doctor is an Egomaniac

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    Having worked closely with hundreds of doctors over the span of fifteen years, I have a scary statistic for you that you won’t want to read, but should know: the crummy physicians outnumber the ecellent ones (fortunately, the vast majority of them fall into the “good” category, so don’t lose all hope).

    There are many ways that a doctor can qualify as crummy. Incompetence is the most widely accepted of these, though, believe it or not, it’s not the most dangerous category. Most of the truly incompetent doctors with which I worked were aware of just how bumbling they were, fortunately for their patients, and they wisely kept to practices where they rarely—if ever—had to deal with life threatening situations; and in most cases, they were smart enough to pass the buck off to another doctor that they knew could handle the situation. Incompetence is not necessarily supported by stupidity; the root of such ineffectiveness may lie in simple laziness.

    Inept doctors stand on the next rung up the crummy ladder from the incompetents. It never failed to amaze me that so many incredibly stupid people could make it through medical school and rise to the level of physician (this is not to suggest that I worked with a large number of inept doctors; probably no more than a dozen out of a few hundred; still, that’s far too many if you ask me). Most of the better educational centers would hardly ever graduate someone in this category, but they do on occasion, possibly because the idiot doctor happened to be a good actor and was a master of cheating on tests. Then again, there are a number of second and third rate medical schools that the AMA (American Medical Association) for some reason recognize as proficient centers of medical education (if this boggles you, keep in mind that most American doctors—especially many good ones—will not join the AMA due to its history of dim-witted actions and decisions). If the diploma on your doctor’s wall says that he graduated from the University of Guadalajara or Grenada, you may consider finding another doctor. Inept doctors are more dangerous than the incompetent ones because they sometimes don’t realize how dumb they are; that combined with poor decision-making skills can lead to very undesirable medical care.

    However, in my opinion, the most dangerous physicians are the egomaniacs, who very rarely fall into the other two categories. Quite the contrary, egomaniacal doctors are often extremely intelligent, diligent and hard working; they are so intelligent that somewhere along the way they convinced themselves that they are smarter than everyone around. Therefore, they are convinced that they can do no wrong. Naturally, because they are human, they are susceptible to all the usual human frailties, including the capacity for incorrectness, but they don’t see it that way and therein lays the danger. An egomaniacal doctor who lacks ethics can be the greatest danger in the hospital because he will ignore the advice of more experienced doctors, he will ignore the complaints of his patient and he will take unnecessary risks for the sake of impressing his peers—and eventually, they all make that one fatal error, and believe me, you don’t want to be the recipient of that.

    Spotting egomaniacal doctors is easier than you may think. First of all, if your doctor never uses the phrases, “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure,” or, “I’ll have to consult with another doctor,” he may be an egomaniac. To test this, try this on him: ask him if he knows of another doctor who can handle your case better than he can. If he says no, then try the second test: tell him you want to change doctors. If he says something along the lines of, “You’re making the worst possible mistake,” “No one can help you as much as I can,” or, “You’ll die without my help!” then get out of his office immediately! Remember, your doctor is your employee: you have every right to fire him, even if he suggests that you don’t (and if he suggests such a thing, either report him to the AMA or, if you’re an inpatient, ask a nurse to send a hospital administrator to your room and report him).

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