Education versus experience
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There is often a chasm of a disconnect between what doctors know (or think they know) about chronic pain/illness and what patients know (or think they know) from their extensive experience of it, making this tweet very funny-because-it’s-true:
Doctor: Don’t confuse your Google search with my 6y at medical school.— Trisha Greenhalgh #FBPE (@trishgreenhalgh) May 26, 2018
Patient: Don’t confuse the 1-hour lecture you had on my condition with my 20y of living with it.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine replied delusionally:
“No doctor would speak to a patient in such a patronizing, haughty manner.”
O RLY? There are many counter-examples in other replies from patients, lots of poignant real-life examples of patients’ stories being ignored in favour of limited book learnin’. They should be required reading for doctors (which might well be why this was tweeted out by Trish Greehalgh, a “Professor of Primary Care”). Here are three that jumped out at me, edited for clarity, comments added in [brackets]:
- I complained about period pain. My doctor said, “You seem to be complaining about this a lot. Are you happy being a woman?” Turns out I have Endometriosis! [Endometriosis could win an award for Nastiest Cause of Chronic Pain Most Likely to Be Ignored By Doctors.]
- Hobbled into emergency room, saying I’d broken my ankle. Doctor told me, “If you’d broken it, you couldn’t walk.” Two weeks later finally got an x-ray. Specialist advised pinning as it took so long to heal. [Ah, the old “you’re too functional to be taken seriously” gambit… and for acute pain, no less! But every chronic pain patient knows this one well!]
- I’ve never gotten a single proper diagnosis by listening to my doctors. I always self-diagnosed first and had to lead my doctors to the right conclusion. [Been there!] I’m a young, healthy looking black woman and I face a lot of bias in the doctors office. [Haven’t been there! Black women are particularly likely to encounter a bizarre combination face both sexism and weird racist assumptions about their “toughness” or capacity for suffering. See inequality and pain.] I’ve had every condition I’ve ever had blamed on stress/faking it/anxiety etc. Even my broken finger has been blamed on anxiety. [That sounds too ridiculous to be real, but I have seen several similar examples over the years.]
Dr. Greenhalgh clarifies in a follow-up tweet: “It’s not my idea — similar sentiment expressed less succinctly has been circulating for a while, and someone said they’d seen a mug with it on!”
Indeed, the “don’t confuse your Google search with my
_____” is a well-established meme, mainly for doctors and lawyers, found on many mugs and T-shirts. But the retort — “don’t confuse your 1-hour lecture in medical school” — is a much more original rebuttal, and I do not know the source.
This is such a gem that I’ve added it to a few different articles around PainScience.com where I think readers will appreciate the amusing perspective, like A Rational Guide to Fibromyalgia, Science versus Experience in Musculoskeletal Medicine, and Alternative Medicine’s Choice.