A Story About the Egotistical Nature of Modern Medicine

September 25th, 2009

Rude DoctorIf you think that you can trust any medical professional based only on their credentials and the assumption that your welfare is their top priority, the following story might upset you.

The best doctors and specialists are those who are open minded and are willing to do and try whatever is necessary and reasonable to provide their patients with the best care possible. Unfortunately, the prestige and dogma that so commonly characterize the medical profession tend to discourage this type of mentality.

The Story of a True Doctor

After completing the first two years of medical school and finding the experience to be “militaristic”, Dr. Burton Berkson decided to pursue something different which led him to earn a masters degree and a PhD in microbiology and became a professor.

Having several family members who were suffering from various illnesses, Dr. Berkson was displeased with how they were being treated by the medical community. He was told by a number of his family’s doctors that as a biologist he wasn’t qualified to question their treatment choices and should mind his business.

Despite his frustration with the medical community, Dr. Berkson decided to complete the residency portion of medical school that he needed to earn his degree. The first university that he approached about doing this told him that because he thinks like a biologist, he would have to retake the first two years of medical school to be reprogrammed to think like a doctor. This was the same type of militaristic philosophy that originally encouraged Dr. Berkson to leave medical school years ago, but it didn’t discourage him and he found another university that would allow him to complete his residency.

Saving Lives Doesn’t Matter

During Dr. Berkson’s residency, it was noticed that none of the patients under his observation had died. This was very unusual because most residents would typically have observed 15 to 20 deaths by this point. As such, a supervisor assigned two new patients to Dr. Berkson and told him that they were diagnosed with terminal liver disease and would surely die within two weeks. He was ordered to observe their deaths and present his notes afterward.

As Dr. Berkson says, medical doctors are trained to follow orders and biologists are trained to pursue new ideas. Rather than merely watching these patients die, he made an effort to find a treatment that might help. He was given the suggestion to try intravenous alpha lipoic acid which had been shown to assist in the regeneration of the liver. Dr. Berkson followed the suggestion, and within two weeks, the two patients who should have been dead at this point were completely fine. Amazing, right?

Instead of being applauded, Dr. Berkson was reprimanded for not following orders and for making the hospital look foolish after the families of these patients had been told that death was certain. Dr. Berkson was told to never do such a thing again, and worst of all, there was no genuine interest in what he did to save the lives of these patients. I find it appalling for anyone to have such a blatant disregard for human life, especially a medical professional. Unfortunately, stories like Dr. Berkson’s are far too common.

What the Medical Profession Should Really Be About

Life is precious and our ability to experience it in an enjoyable and rewarding manner is greatly dependent on our health. As such, the medical profession has the responsibility of protecting the most significant and meaningful aspect of all humanity. Instead of handling this tremendous responsibility with the humility and care that it demands, too many modern medical professionals are close minded and have lost sight of the true purpose of their profession. They’d rather conform to a broken system and act as middlemen for the drug industry than risk tarnishing their reputation by using a less conventional approach to truly address the needs of their patients. After all, if saving a life is not recognized as an amazing achievement, then what is?

How this Affects You

I find it very unsettling to think of how many people’s lives are ruined by passively believing the medical professionals who tell them that they’ll surely die or that a dangerous treatment method is their only choice. There’s almost always another choice, but you’ll never benefit from it unless you believe that it exists and are willing to pursue it.

Even the medical professionals who prescribe dangerous medications on the slightest whim, reject anything that defies the dogmas of modern medicine, and give up hope on their patients far too easily still tend to have a genuine concern for the welfare of humanity. However, keeping a patient healthy requires a lot more than just good intentions. This is why it’s so important to educate yourself and take responsibility for what you choose to believe and the resulting decisions that you make.

Fortunately, there’s an increasing number of knowledgeable and open minded medical professionals who are genuinely passionate about the welfare of humanity and regard it as their top priority, but they’re a minority and can be hard to find. Even if you’re able to find someone like this, they won’t have all the answers, and as such, it’s still important for you to be prepared to make informed decisions. Otherwise, you’ll be left having to rely on blind faith.

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