In the same 7 months since I left the conference my grandfather has
been struggling with constant symptoms that seem obviously to point to a
bladder or prostate cancer. Following along as a family member I can
see the frustrations our system causes. He’s a sharp guy and my family
is well educated – though not medical professionals – and still everyone
(myself included) has been confused through the entire journey. Assured
it was a bladder infection he pressed on through several rounds of
antibiotics eventually undergoing a bladder scope and further blood
testing. All the while never informed of any possibility beyond a
unitary tract infection. He encountered physicians in the hospital and
outpatient setting nearly a dozen times throughout these months. The
communication and hand off between doctors was poor, the system was
muddled with confusion and communication was nonexistent.
After 4 rounds of attempting to treat the symptoms as a UTI, after an
X-ray, a scope and multiple sets of blood work and still no answers we
switched providers. A repeat of the initial scope revealed a very high
grade anterior prostate cancer – understandably missed by routine
screening but unforgivably missed by 7 months of encounters with the
healthcare system. Seven months of taking pills, having side effects, of
changing his lifestyle, of making appointments, of collecting medical
bills and finally a repeat of a test that was initially done months
prior reveals the diagnosis that should have been obvious all along.
can we do so poorly? We do not communicate well, we do not follow patients well and
we just don’t always take good care of people.
It terrifies me that I am working my way towards a career in a system
that does such a poor job at times, because I only want to do the best to treat my patients in the best possible
way. I won’t let it terrify me though, rather inspire me to do better,
to communicate, to listen, to speak up, to find and learn from errors. I
will do better.