When the Family Health Expert Second Guesses the Doctor
By BENJAMIN BREWER, M.D.
"In times of medical need, it's natural, even useful, for patients to turn to a family member who's a doctor or nurse for an informal second opinion.
But when that opinion turns into a steady stream of second guessing, the family advocate can really gum up the works.
It seems that nearly every family has some type of health provider in it. Many "times when someone is hospitalized I have an interaction with a relative who is a doctor, nurse, or another health professional like a respiratory or physical therapist.
Often folks will come in to verify that what you're thinking sounds right to them -- it's a feeling-out process. That's usually fine. But there are times when it seems that no matter how hard I try I am going to have a difficult time satisfying these people."
When the family member is a nurse, there is a tendency for the nurse to elicit a wide variety of medical opinions on the same matter then pick the one they like the best and push me to investigate it to their satisfaction."
What do you think?
Sep 19, '06
Yes, I do think this happens very often and there is a very sound reason behind it: health care is not understandable by most lay people. For instance, our language is not easy to learn, we don't explain ourselves well and many times what we want the patient to do involves pain. We also have so divided our culture that the patients don't even know who is providing their care. The patient in a hospital nowadays might encounter clerks, CNA's, nurses, doctors, radiology techs, etc..
Sometimes having a healthcare provider in the family and/or at the bedside to sort things out is necessary.
I am an advanced practice nurse and yes, I get asked all the time for medical advice - many times from folks I barely know. I refer them back to their primary care provider and always encourage them to write questions/concerns down prior to seeing the healthcare provider.