Back off pal, I’m an M.D.

“She’s taking it to the chiropractor,” smirked one Newton Medical Center technician to another as my wife waited for them to hand over an x-ray scan of baby Isaiah’s arm. We were twenty hours into an ordeal, sparked the night before when he came wailing to his mother, his arm held tight to his side. She took him to the emergency room, where they concluded, based on the scan, that nothing was broken. They theorized that he’d suffered nursemaid’s elbow, and that the tendon had somehow popped back into place on its own. They sent mother and wailing baby home with advice to give him Tylenol.

He hardly slept that night. The next day his pain was just as bad, and so Wife took him to our family chiropractor. She actually bothered to perform a manual exam. It was hard to tell with the swelling, but yes, it felt like the tendon was out of whack. She treated Isaiah with ice packs and laser therapy, notably reducing the swelling. She adjusted his elbow as best she could, and then the following day, after more treatment to reduce the swelling, she got the recalcitrant tendon back into place completely.

The total cost was under a hundred dollars, compared to the hundreds those geniuses at the hospital squandered in place of a competent manual exam. And the thing is, few medical professionals seem to actively seek to learn from their failures, or even admit them. Even if we call and complain, I doubt there will be some consideration by key staff of how they might have done things differently. In their system’s “eyes,” a baby came in with pain, he was adequately treated, and he went home to get better.

I’m just thankful we have choices when we run into professional incompetence. I wonder how that will change once a phalanx of federal professionals gets together to divine what magical blend of bureaucratic oversight can cure a medical bureaucracy overcome by arrogance, poor feedback, a fetish for expensive procedures over common sense, and slovenly administrative oversight. Color me pessimistic, but I don’t see how greater federal intervention is going to fix the bundle of problems that leads trained professionals to choose an x-ray over a simple exam, and to sneer when the patient’s mother goes elsewhere for help.


  1. Phil

    I am with you on that one Tony. How can a government give attention to detail that is needed? They can’t pure and simple, leaving the pros to squander money, and the ‘old ways’ go out the window.

    As a chef, I see how people forget how to do things that to the past generations, was common sense. Maybe we are to technical for our own good.

  2. Tom

    Regarding the competance, or otherwise, of a government run health system, a contributor to the IMAO site came up with what I believe to be the best reason to not let government control health:

    “It’s an imprudent choice to provide the government with a financial incentive to prefer to see you dead rather than ill.”
    Harvey @ IMAO

  3. nichole

    Insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare reimburse a greater percentage of “objective” tests as opposed to the “subjective” evaluations of medical professionals. If the “objective” test doesn’t reveal a problem, the
    “subjective” professional opinion of a doctor will be ignored and uncompensated. I can only imagine it will be worse once congress gets a hold of our health care system.

  4. llanasn

    Having worked in a hospital affiliated with a Med School for over 22 years, I strongly believe that you SHOULD complain. Every 3rd year Med student and every 1st year Nursing student knows that the manual exam comes first. ER staff truly despise Pediatriac rotations for obvious reasons. They must have a special “bedside manner” in working with children (which, of course, is ALSO taught in Med & Nursing courses). Whoever was working that evening probably falsified records as far as descibing a non-excistent manual exam in the chart. Some people are not cut out to work with children, and, thus, should never work in the ER. The students, interns, and residents have to “suck it up” to get through their training. The individuals who choose to work in Emergency Medicine have to treat each and every patient with compassion and quick thinking, no matter what the age of their patient.
    Please excuse any spelling or grammer errors. This really makes me angry.Please complain to the hospital patient relations dept.

  5. Paul A'Barge

    Western Medicine. ;;;big sigh;;; Good for broken bones and cataracts. For anything shall we say involving medical nuance-wise? Not so much.

    By the way, for prolonged healing of that tendon, consider acupuncture. It’s the nuts.

  6. Donna B.

    llanasn has got this one right. While insurance companies do like the cut and dried ease of “tests” they still pay for hands-on exams and the doctors were negligent in not performing one.

    But I have to say that acupuncture is bunk. Sorry, I just can’t see where it is better than a complex placebo.

    Good chiropractors are physical therapists – be careful when they start pushing woo, like acupuncture. Sounds like you’ve got a good one.

    I’m glad Isaiah’s feeling better.

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