Question your doctor’s opinion, but don’t judge the profession by its rogue Patersons
Recent news that former breast consultant Ian Paterson has been convicted and sentenced to 15 years for carrying out hundreds of needless operations is surely to be welcomed as some recompense for the despair and distress of those patients who, as it turns out, underwent unnecessary intrusive operations.
But how did it come to this in the first place? After the event it seems quite simple: a professional surgeon abused his position of respect and trust by telling his patients what he wanted them to hear instead of the truth in cynical yet cruelly successful attempts to boost his own earnings.
So what should we take away from this tragic story? Were the National Health Service and the private sector collectively or severally negligent? Although I am not in a position to offer definitive answers, a 2013 report by Sir Ian Kennedy found serious issues at the heart of England’s NHS.
Against such a backdrop it remains extremely important that, before you undergo any medical treatment or procedure, you should not only question your doctor’s rationale but also find out what alternative options may be available to you, including whether it may be appropriate in your individual case to delay the beginning of treatment or wait before undergoing an operation. Discuss with your doctor the downsides of the proposed treatment as well as any potential benefits, if you are still in doubt supplement your doctor’s expert opinion with independent research, and be sure you understand the full picture before making your decision.
Remember too that the Patersons of this world are rare. Everyone has a right to question their doctor’s advice and to hold them to account but, equally, the vast majority of medical professionals are exactly that: professional, knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy – and we should not be afraid to follow their advice.
James Hawke. Solicitor and Head of clinical negligence.General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog