Who Is JE Health Care Solutions

Face Book like

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Missing an Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis Should Be Criminal

This is a re-post of an article by Trisha Torrey with About.com Patient Empowerment.  I thought this was worth passing on to my readers.   This is what happens with our healthcare delivery system.  Everyone needs to take back control of their healthcare.

My mother-in-law passed away in 2007 from a missed diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  She was Stage IV when it was finally diagnosed - after more than one year of symptoms complaints.

I learned yesterday that the same thing happened just this past month to a friend of a friend, who we'll call Deborah.  Deborah complained for more than one year to her doctors that she felt bloated, gassy, constipated, her back ached...  neither her primary, nor her gastroenterologist ever suggested they should look for ovarian cancer.  Now she's stage IV and suffering through chemo, post surgery.

Then this morning, I checked in on my Facebook page, to find another woman telling me that her diagnosis of ovarian cancer was missed.  She's very angry (I would be, too!) - and wrote this on my wall:

Our compartmentalized healthcare system literally breaks our bodies up into tiny little pieces. GP's seem to do only referrals. Each medical discipline wears a specific color lense, and they can't see beyond their colors, causing an incorrect diagnosis. This ruins lives and kills.

She's right.  She has hit the nail on the head.  Not only are primary care doctors simply deflecting any form of diagnosis beyond the simplest, but in too many cases of women with gastro-type symptoms, they are referring female patients to the wrong specialist.

I can hear the outcry from primary care doctors now....  "I did what was obvious!  She complained that her stomach was upset and she was constipated, so I sent her to a gastroenterologist!  Can I help it if she never came back to me so I could refer her to someone else? I didn't know she was having continued problems... If she doesn't come back, then what am I supposed to do?"

To which I say.... she is female.  She had that set of symptoms which could suggest either gastro OR gynecological problems.  So why didn't you refer her to BOTH?  Why didn't you insist that she have BOTH body systems checked for problems?  Why didn't you explain to her that her set of symptoms aren't definitive and to ask her to make sure to follow up with you so you could make sure she visited both specialists?

I hear the outcry from gastroenterologists, too... "Wait!  I don't deal with female reproductive problems!  I only deal with digestive system problems!  How would I even know what to look for? !!"

To which I say...  yes, and if you refer her to someone else, in this case a gynecologist, and that new specialist actually diagnoses her, then she won't return to your office and have to pay you over and over again to find something that helps her -- even though you can't -- right?  Yes -- the only two excuses I can think of that you wouldn't refer your patient are that you don't know your medicine OR you don't want to lose a paying customer, Dr. Gastro. Which is it?  And don't tell me it's not in the literature and they never taught that in medical school.... there is abundant information available to you, alerting you to this possibility in women if you find her problems are not digestive system related.  How often are your female patients dying while you simply scratch your head and say, "Gee, I did everything a gastroenterologist could do?"

Do I sound angry?  You bet I am!  There is no excuse for a diagnosis of ovarian cancer to be missed, if the professionals are paying attention and if the woman seeks medical attention.  Granted, there are some women who suffer those symptoms and never get to the doctor.  They have only themselves to blame if they aren't diagnosed in time to save their own lives.

But if they have asked for help from a primary care physician, a gastroenterologist, a gynecologist - any form of medical review, then an OVARIAN CANCER DIAGNOSIS SHOULD NEVER BE MISSED. The symptoms are there, and just need to be interpreted correctly.  The tests exist, and even if they aren't by themselves definitive, they can send you in the right direction. If you, Doctor, don't make those recommendations, and if you miss the opportunity to diagnose her in early stages, then yes - I think that's criminal.

Most can be caught early through the use of ultrasound and a blood test called a CA-125.  And yes, a definitive diagnosis will require a surgical biopsy. But let's weigh a few days of pain and discomfort against much more difficult surgery, then chemo, and possibly (probably) death.  No contest.

Women!  If you suffer from stomach upset, bloating, constipation, pain during sex, feeling full - or any of those types of symptoms, then get yourself to your gynecologist ASAP and ask to be screened for ovarian cancer.  Don't wait around for your primary care doctor, or a gastroenterologist, or any other doctor who doesn't know the basics to send you to the right person.

YOU can empower yourself to seek the right answers.  YOU are the person who will suffer until you get the right answers!  DON'T be one more victim of doctors who are either in too big a hurry, aren't paying attention, or don't want to lose you as customers.  KEEP LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT ANSWERS -- so that I don't hear about misdiagnosed ovarian cancer patients anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment