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To the doctor who told us to stop asking for answers 

Ben is on day 7 in the hospital. After spinning our wheels, the hospitalist is getting down to business and hunting for underlying causes, and we’re getting things accomplished. 

However, a new-to-us GI doctor saw him today, blithely pronounced his problem a hypersensitive gag reflex and told us to stop asking for tests because we weren’t going to find anything. I wasn’t here, which is probably a very good thing, but when I see him later, I will ask this doctor one thing:  “Would you have said that if he didn’t have Down syndrome?”

Thankfully most of our doctors have a healthy respect for Ben, his complex medical history, and us as his parents and primary advocates, but this doctor is not alone in his dismissive attitude.  I don’t expect a silver bullet at this point, nor do I hang my hope on a single test to provide Ben a life of improved health and wellbeing. But I do believe that there’s a puzzle which needs to be solved, and to the best of my ability I will ensure that we get there. 

I wonder, though, why a doctor thinks it’s okay for a child to have vomiting refractory to the best interventions that modern medicine has to offer and to recommend that we, his parents, just accept that as status quo.  I wonder why a child’s suffering means so little to him that he can dismiss it so readily, and and I wonder why he became a pediatric specialist if he doesn’t regard my son’s quality of life as important enough to for us to deserve answers and management. I am thankful this doctor is the exception.  

So, sir, I will continue to do everything in my power to help my child, regardless of what you think. 

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3 thoughts on “To the doctor who told us to stop asking for answers 

  1. As a former Director of the Medical Staff Office at a large Tampa, FL hospital, please let me apologize for this doctor’s insensitivity; it is truly the exception and not the norm!

    This GI doctor needs to be reported to the Division Chair of Pediatrics, Chief of Staff and Chief Medical Officer at your hospital. At one time this type of insensitivity was tolerated; however, it is no longer tolerated. He needs to be sent for sensitivity training at the least and officially reprimanded!

    Good luck with your son, I will follow your blog for updates. I hope you get some answers soon!

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    1. Donna, just to update, after further conversation with my husband I found out that he had confronted this doctor. He also reported the incident to the hospitalist, and we filled out a patient comment card as well (on which we included praise for a nurse who was exceptional as well as an this incident), and patient relations called today and will be addressing the incident. A blog post is just noise if we don’t address the issue head on.

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      1. Great! I am happy this is being addressed. Pls be assured that Hospital Administrators take this very seriously. At the very least, this will be discussed with the physician as what they call a collegial intervention and discussed at the Medical Executive Committee who reviews all complaints re physician behaviors. A note will be placed in his file as well. At our hospital, if this is the first offense that would end it and he would be placed on notice that his behavior is being watched. If a recurrent event, he might be invited to the MEC to explain his continued behavior and receive an official letter of reprimand, which might be reported to the state medical board.

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