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Message Alexander Gentle
Medical Ethics? Profiles in Cowardice

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Modern Medicine: If All Else Fails, Blame the Patient

Here is the stinging truth! Doctors Blame Patients for Failed Procedures

According to the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) and the AAOS (American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons), up to 40% of spine surgery patients end up with failed procedures.

This, after 500,000 lumbar procedures a year, minimum, over the last 10 years (that is 5,000,000 patients), results in millions of patients with unrectified, or worsened conditions after surgery.

According to these very same organizations, the number one reason they ascribe to failed spine surgery is: patient psychological dysfunction. Other, more reasonable reasons, such as inappropriate patient selection, inappropriate level (improper operation technique) operated on, marital discord, workplace problems, drug or legal problems, smoking, drinking, or psychosocial changes. According to Medline, and Medscape, and the National Library of Medicine, other reasons for failed surgery are: over-correction or hyperlaminectomy/discectomy, resorting in too much bone being removed in decompression (resulting in unstable spines), the presence of undetected lateral stenosis, which cannot be corrected by disk decompression, or improper surgical technique, including the leaving of surgical devices in the body, post op.

This time honored technique of blaming the victim, is not new. Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler ascribed the moniker of mental illness to their opponents. Stalin went so far as to have hundreds of thousands of his critics institutionalized as a result of their opposition to his oppression. How odd that the field of medicine would be forced to resort to the same iron fisted, mean spirited deviance, to defend their shoddy work, or worse, cover their mistakes, rather than deal with them up front, with honesty and value of their employers, the patients.

Is this the sign of genuine patient advocates, or rabid power brokers, doing anything to protect their reputation and their practices, regardless of how desperate, or inappropriate, and unethical, the means?

posted by yankeewhiskeyvictor at 5:06 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, January 26, 2006
MEDICAL ETHICS: Profiles in Cowardice

What is professional misconduct? To me, it includes, of course, the double, and triple billing such as apparently went on at Enron. It also should include misinformation, exploitation, lack of forthrightness, and deception. Especially in the medical profession. Believe me, it happens. I am one of thousands who have forfeited their health for life, based on misinformation, and deception by the medical community. I have adhesive arachnoiditis, a spinal cord injury that 'does not exist', that is too rare to happen, nothing is known about it, 'is too controversial to diagnose' and any of a half dozen other inaccurate descriptions. Only recently have I discovered the vast extent of its existence. To me, professional MEDICAL misconduct is defined by what I am about to tell you. This is the personification of medical misconduct.

What makes medical professional misconduct all the more galling is, financial transaction misconduct usually applies to the exchange of money alone. When you depend on an anesthesiologist, a spine surgeon, a pain management expert, or neurosurgeon, to make recommendations and decisions for you, you are also depending on that person explicitly for honest, professional advice regarding your health and health for the rest of your life. You are gambling with your health. Something, that, in this case, cannot be recovered, if lost. The expectation of honest, clear, and concise communication is guaranteed by the Hippocratic Oath to first do no harm. The Hippocratic Oath also implies honesty and ethical behavior, by the physician.

What, then, to think, when you discover that Oath meant nothing, or worse, that it could be set aside or abrogated, for the financial gain of the doctor? How so you ask? Spine patients are given diagnostics such as myelogramCTs, which carry a risk of arachnoiditis. Early pantopaque dye gave as many as 60% of recipients sterile arachnoiditis. Epidural steroids using the current steroid media, depo medrol, kenalog, celestone soluspan, all known neurotoxins, also have preservatives that also can give arachnoiditis.

When modern spine injury patients go to orthopaedists, neurosurgeons, and pain management doctors (anesthesiologists for the most part), some of the very first things done are diagnostics (using omnipaque, a descendant of pantopaque, a known neurotoxin), then often spinal epidural steroids, and other invasive procedures. These procedures carry a risk. Several risks, actually. One of which is arachnoiditis. Or, in its advanced form, adhesive arachnoiditis. According to published statistics, 16% of spine patients end up with arachnoiditis. How many of us receiving myelograms or epidural steroids (ESI) are warned of these incurable risks in advance? Virtually none.

One can go to Google Books, look up arachnoiditis, and find hundreds, and hundreds of medical texts describing and defining arachnoiditis. However, if you go to any doctors office, especially radiologists and anesthesiologists who do these procedures, and ask them about arachnoiditis, it does not exist, is an urban myth. No one knows anything about it. It is not a painful condition. Etc. I think you get the picture. Do an internet search on arachnoiditis. You will find thousands of responses. Doesn't matter which search engine you use. You will find plenty of us out there. Many of us are paraplegic, some quadriplegic. We have severe, lancinating, burning pain, that the strongest drugs in the world have a hard time treating. We have bladder and bowel malfunction, sexual dysfunction, incontinence. Some of us have severe headaches because the arach has gotten into our brains and compromised our CSF. We have damaged or obliterated lumbar or thoracic nerve root sheathes. That makes the slightest weather change, or movement, extraordinarily painful to a degree you cannot imagine.

If you look up ARAC support group, ASAMS, AASQA, COFWA (Circle of Friends with Arachnoiditis),, etc, you will find thousands of us with identical stories. We were told these procedures were routine and safe. We were told they were effective, and we all ended up with this incurable, untreatable, hell on earth. Our doctors responses? Often, we are labeled as malingerers, fakers, somatoforic (psychosomatic) cases. We are stigmatized, and labelled as whiners and drug seekers. It is not uncommon for arachniacs to receive harsh lectures as to how we 'caused our own pain, and are personally responsible for our condition' when it was the DOCTOR that CAUSED THIS!!!

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YWV was a creditor represenatative in US Federal Bankruptcy Court, a litigation manager and credit manager, before succumbing to arachnoiditis and failed back surgery syndrome. He graduated from University of Tenn. He had 29 epidurals, and plenty of (more...)
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