The Tenth ENT
I saw my tenth ENT in two years last month. I have seen the last nine because the first—whom I saw for ear ringing—destroyed my nose and face with unnecessary surgeries. ENT #1 was the first I had seen in my 55 years of life.
I had done my research before making an appointment with Dr. D. I now have a lot of things to avoid. I want to avoid associations with ENT’s one through six and #8, whose primary objectives, in my “care,” were protecting themselves and each other from liability. I am determined to avoid un-board-certified ENT’s like the one who butchered my face, proving it does not require board certification to turn a pretty woman into a homely one. Lastly, I would like to avoid all the “company men” who lie to and about patients regarding their conditions–white-washing conditions caused by other doctors and black-washing the patients. This last requirement entails a process of ESP, prayer, conjuring spirits, rain-dancing, luck, and mostly, trial and error—hence, the 10 ENT’s.
As I approached Dr. D’s office, I was suddenly stricken by the knowledge that I had overlooked a detail regarding my first requirement—associations with ENT’s one through six and #8. I had failed to ask where Dr. D did his surgeries. My heart sank into my feet. He could be associated with ENT #1 after all.
Dr. D’s office was in a nice, well-appointed new building on a country road. I approached the office window, trying to appear nonchalant, and signed in. “Where does Dr. D__________ do his surgeries?” I asked the woman seated at the window. Just as casually, she confirmed my worst fear. Dr. D operated in the same surgery center as Dr. S—the butcher.
I picked up a magazine and hid my disappointment. Another wrong turn.
I couldn’t help myself. I had to deal with it right away. As soon as Dr. D came into the examining room, I brought up the subject. First, I handed him a photo taken of me three months before the surgery. I told him about the surgeries done by Dr. S, and the suffering of the last two years. He took a quick look inside my nose. “I asked your office person where you do surgeries, when I came in,” I said. “I almost turned around and walked back out. He’s your colleague,” I said. “Can you be objective?”
Dr. D is a young doctor, still in his thirties. He handed back my photo. “Dr. S_____ is not my colleague,” he said. “We have a business relationship. You are my patient. You are my concern. Not Dr. S_____.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
Dr. D was as good as his word. He did what the other ENT’s would not do: he answered my questions. He told the truth about my condition—that my airways have been made “too open” by the surgery. He diagnosed the rhinitis condition created by the surgery, and attempted to treat it. The treatment didn’t work, but that didn’t really matter. Dr. D made me feel like I had a doctor involved in my care. He reassured me several times that his business relationship with Dr. S_____ would not affect my care. And it didn’t.
And it shouldn’t. Not ever. Never should a doctor’s professional association with other doctors affect a patient’s care.