Monday, July 26, 2010

Why do doctors bad mouth other doctors ?

Many patients find that the doctor you go to for a second opinion will often be very critical of the first doctor. When a new doctor criticises what the old one did, patients feel frustrated, because they feel it reflects badly on their choice of a doctor.

Why are doctors so happy to criticise their colleagues and peers at the drop of a hat ?

Some of this is simply a power game. Doctors do their best to try to look good for their patients, and by demonstrating the errors and shortcomings of the earlier doctors, they are emphasising how much good they are ! The hidden subtext is - You made the right decision when you came to me - I am the best !

Some of this is simple oneupmanship. Doctors are highly competitive and proud of their intellectual prowess and surgical skills. They take delight in highlighting the shortcomings of their peers, because this reinforces their belief that they are the best ! Medical students have always been competitive, and this immature streak persists , no matter how much they age !

Some doctors will do this as a subtle form of marketing, to cater to the patient's desire. When patients come for a second opinion, they want something new, something different ! Smart doctors are happy to comply , because this tactic offers their patients with new hope, and helps them to justify their consultation fees !

Thus, some doctors will order additional tests ( and the more expensive these are the better ! The really smart ones will say that the tests have to be sent abroad to a highly specialised lab , adding to their aura of omniscience ! ). Others will change the prescription ( often writing exactly the same drug, but with a different brand name , so it costs a lot more, or has to be "imported" !)

Unfortunately, this kind of critical approach has a backlash. For one, patients start believing that doctors are incompetent , and cannot be trusted. This will lead to more lawsuits in the future.
Even worse, remember your friend will return the favour when he gets a chance to do so !

Few doctors have the maturity to say - Yes, your doctor has done a good job and you are on the right track. Please go back to him !
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