So today, my clinic was graced with a patient here for mucous and sore throat. No fever or other issues.
After my exam and a rapid strep test, I advised the patient and her mother (because some 20-somethings are still basically children who can’t go to the doctor without a parent) that I did not think antibiotics would be helpful, but I could send them over if they wish.
This, of course, provoked an instant and furious reaction from both of them in the face of such blatant racism. Yes, that’s right, I was only saying that because I’m just another white racist. How dare I talk down to them. Who was I do decide what was best for the patient? (Who do I think I am, a doctor?!?) They weren’t there “just to swallow a bunch of pills,” the mother literally screamed, right before insisting I send over a bunch of antibiotic pills for the daughter to swallow. The mother also stated that she already disliked me from a prior visit — welp, ok then! She and the daughter shouted to all the waiting room that they would “destroy” me, that they would go to the Better Business Bureau or the medical board, anything they could think of.
After all, who could possibly advise them that antibiotics probably would not help a sore throat caused by postnasal drip? Dr. Bull Connor, that’s who!
This sort of sore throat is one of our most common complaints, and many patients embrace the medical fallacies of No Sore Throat Shall Go Unswabbed and Antibiotics Are Magic!. Swallowing mucous really hurts the throat a lot and is very common with allergies and the common cold — but unfortunately, neither of these respond whatsoever to antibiotics. Overprescription of antibiotics remains one of the most systemic problems in medicine, and a huge reason why is not the doctor, but a certain type of patient who equates “medicine” with “antibiotic” in their mind. Even suggesting that antibiotics are not helpful can trigger an epic meltdown, as I just experienced, and the path of least resistance therefore sure looks enticing by comparison.
Are you sick? Then you need an antibiotic. QED. That’s the logic. Fight against it at your peril.
If someone is going to complain about me, at least let it be for a valid reason. Like, let me make fun of someone’s silly fashion sense or something if I’m getting the complaint anyway. But noooo. I have to be professional. So I have to just sit there and take it no matter how much a patient’s mother screams and insults me. All I can do is ask them calmly to leave. (and by “calmly” I mean “while barely holding in my crying fit until after they leave.”)
And the most hilarious part: I still don’t even know what ethnic group those two belong to. Hispanic? Arab? South Asian? Israeli? Biracial? Persian? Hell if I know! Even the last name was maddeningly vague and could apply to almost any ethnic group. They should at least have the common courtesy of letting me know who I am being racist against before accusing me racism.
One of the biggest problems of the medical world is that you are prohibited by law from replying to public allegations from patients against you, no matter how ridiculous. If someone one-stars a restaurant or hair salon or law firm or any other service-industry firm on Yelp, the proprietor has the right of response to point out the client was naked and smearing feces on the wall by the time they were being asked to leave, or what have you. But not medicine! Oh no, that would violate HIPAA!
So instead, I blog. In case you haven’t noticed, part of the reason of this blog is to let me blow off steam. And boy howdy did I have some today.