Four of my blogs during the past six weeks have dealt with the sadness and/or anger of far too many parents the world over because the diagnosis of their baby’s malady was by any standard less than respectful and thorough.
I have observed in several blogs that all the parents and medical professionals concerned with this issue could improve their consultation process in particular ways, possibly in many ways.
During the past week I heard a radio program about the number of parents who take their sick children to the local hospital’s Emergency Department. Some went there with urgent and serious conditions but we were told that many went with minor ailments of infancy that could easily have been taken care of in other ways: by checking the web or a book at home, consulting a family member, or calling on their local pharmacist or the local health clinic.
What completely amazed me however, was the comment of the health professional and educator being interviewed that in Australia and most other developed countries most hospitals do not use an evidence-based diagnosis procedure! That is: a list of the symptoms, questions, and tests that need to be worked through to arrive at as accurate and prompt a diagnosis as possible. And that most health workers do not have one either.
Every medical worker is like everyone of us: we all have strong and weak areas. Not every family doctor is a whiz at diagnosis or sports medicine, not every surgeon is a good communicator, not every nurse has a good manner with children, and not every hospital CEO is a born negotiator. We all need to recognise and remember that.
This is all the more reason to ask why every hospital “emergency room” (ER) must not have a formal set of diagnostic procedures! My body and its working and defects is very, very complex, and thus diagnosing a problem can sometimes be very difficult. If we could expect every ER to have somebody on duty at all times who is able to cover many cases and who is strong in diagnosis . . . “and pigs will fly!” Surely every doctor and hospital must have a list of the symptoms, questions, and tests that need to be worked through to arrive at an accurate and prompt diagnosis.
Let me illustrate with a simple example.
Many parents who take their new baby to their doctor or ER because of constant vomiting tell us they were assured the problem is probably gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or reflux. Their family history of pyloric stenosis (PS) or their list of symptoms pointing to this was summarily brushed off: “All babies sick up! New mothers are anxious!” Just read the recent posts or some of the web-based comments.
In recent blogs I have listed the symptoms of PS. The following small table makes it easy for parents and all concerned to recognise the clear differences between PS and GERD –
I have seen many tables like this on the web, dealing with many different conditions and symptoms. They help the general public, and surely such simple information (or fuller versions of them) would also greatly raise the standard of good medical diagnosis.