I visited my physician today for a minor complaint. It’s probably nothing serious, but then again there’s a small chance it could be something bad. My doc is an older internist, Harvard affiliated. He keeps up with the literature and knows what he’s doing. He’s also pretty modern –using secure messaging for example.
Unlike many of his colleagues, he’s pretty conservative in ordering up tests and meds. This isn’t a guy who gives out antibiotics to people who come in for a cold.
In my case he was at pains to tell me it was probably benign and might resolve on its own. There’s no pill for it, he said. He could refer me to a specialist but the specialist would just tell me the same thing –but would have more credentials. I hadn’t asked for a pill or a referral (and wasn’t going to), so this seemed to be a pre-emptive move.
I’m generally fine with this approach. It’s the kind of thing they do in Canada and Europe I’m told, and why their costs are lower.
On the other hand, when I spoke to a close friend who’s an internist and told him my situation he was a little surprised I wasn’t referred to a specialist or sent for an advanced test.
I’m not sure how I feel about it myself. Although I’m generally a believer in “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” –or more accurately, “what you find out if you look might hurt you” I’m thinking of asking for that referral anyway.July 17, 2009