A Note To The Mecca

Being an infidel, I can only visit Mecca through pictures, and it is a beautiful place indeed.  Fortunate are those able to make the haj to this Holy City.

Similarly, as a simple private practice radiologist out here in the boonies, I will never work in one of the medical Meccas.  You know the places I’m talking about, those incredible Bastions of Academic Medicine, the Shining Ivory Towers of Knowledge, the Shrines to Higher Learning, the Embodiments of Perfection, the Last Hope and the Last Chance.  May my friends and family (and I) never require your services.

Let me address the Mecca (it doesn’t really matter which one) directly. 

Dear Mecca, I have more respect for you than you will ever know.  But it seems that the feeling is not mutual.  I received a letter from one of your patients today, a gentleman who was very distressed with me based on things he heard from The Mecca.  And I don’t blame him.  Mecca, you told my patient that I and several of my partners had missed or misinterpreted a number of findings on his radiographs.  He was very angry, having been told by The Mecca that his disease could have been arrested earlier, but for our error.  Which of course would never have happened at The Mecca. 

Well, Mecca, I have had the chance to review the images in question.  Something is wrong.  There was no miss, no failure.  The lesion the gentleman stated clearly that you pointed out to him in a particular spot is nowhere to be found on his images.  Mecca, we have a problem. 

Ill patients, especially those who desperately seek help from The Mecca, are almost by definition scared and anxious.  I’ll certainly grant the possibility that the gentleman in question didn’t hear or didn’t understand what he heard from The Mecca, but frankly, some of the specifics are so, well, specific, that I really have trouble accepting that explanation. I have to take my patient at his word, and assume you did tell him these things.  Was this to make you feel good about yourself at the expense of some nameless, faceless doc out in the boonies?  I can’t imagine that you would sink so low.  Unless, of course, you are attempting to justify the metastasis of Mecca Medicine throughout the land, one patient at a time.  We’ve heard the claims from The Meccas over the years that simple radiologists like me aren’t up to the job.  Are you trying to spread the Gospel of The Mecca via the patients who seek your help?  Is that what I’m up against?

I confess to you, Dear Mecca, that I’m human, and I make mistakes in this business, as does every other radiologist who has ever read more than one examination.  I’m sure there are some mistakes made even at The Mecca.  In this particular gentleman’s case, we did not make a mistake, and you haven’t done him any good by implying that I did.  Please, I beg of you, measure your words carefully when you talk with your patients.  They hang on everything you say, as if it meant life itself.  Which to them, it does.

And to the gentleman himself, whom is no doubt Internet-savvy and may be perusing this message as we speak, I have this to say:  The goal of everyone in this business, whether they are at The Mecca or in the boonies, is to keep you healthy.  You, the patient, are the most important person we deal with.  We all try our best.  Sometimes that isn’t enough, and we will always keep trying to do better.  I do hope you received the finest of care from The Mecca, and while I disagree with their interpretation of your images, I still have respect for them, for your sake more than mine.  I wish you a full recovery, and happiness and good health for many years to come. 

Salaam alaikum.

One response to “A Note To The Mecca

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