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Close Encounters Of The Alternative Medicine Kind – II May 14, 2006

Posted by scan man in Life in India, Medicine.

For those who read Part-I of my Close Encounters, this story is different. This is more in line with the usual kind of stuff that 'real doctors' write about Alternative Medicine.

It ought to be titled "Quactitioner Alert". I refrained from doing so out of deference to Dr. Crippen who coined the phrase.

This story starts with the ringing of my office intercom on a busy morning…

My Receptionist tells me that there's a doctor on line and she wants to talk to the Radiologist. I tell him to put her on….

Lady Doctor (in a demanding tone): Is this the Radiologist?

scan man (a little put off by the demanding tone): Good Morning. Yes, I am the Radiologist. I'm Dr. scan man. What can I do for you?

Lady Doctor: I want a scan done for one of my patients. I wanted to talk to you about it before I sent him over.

scan man: Ok. May I know who you are and what scan you want for your patient?

Lady Doctor: I'm Dr. G. I'm a Doctor of Naturopathy. I'm calling from Town-M. My patient needs a scan of his abdomen. I wanted to ask you what would be better, a CT scan or an ultrasound scan.

Something goes 'Quack, quack' in the back of my mind while I try to take some deep breaths and compose myself. I really hate it when someone introduces themselves or is introduced to me as a doctor and they turn out to be alternative medical 'practitioners'.

The Government, in its infinite wisdom, recognizes them and encourages the practice of calling them Doctors. In fact the Government even encourages the habit of calling physiotherapists doctors. I don't like it.

scan man (trying very hard to sound polite): That depends on what exactly you are looking for..

G: What do you mean, what I'm looking for! I want the scan done so that I can find out if anything is wrong…

scan man (exasperated): Madam, what I meant is that the choice of scan would depend on what your clinical suspicion is..

G: Ohh… Ok. The patient has had stomach pain (sic) and loose stools for a day..

I waited for her to continue….and realized that she was not going to say anything more…

I had a suspicion about the kind of answer that I would get for my next question.

scan man: Have you examined the patient or done any other tests?

G: No. I wanted a scan done first.

Ah hah.

Suspicion confirmed.

The QUACKs in the back of my mind have become louder and more frantic.

I need to be careful here. I'm entering a delicate part of the process…

scan man: That's fine Dr. G, I think I'll do an ultrasound scan on him…

G: Do you think that will tell us what is wrong with him?

Good. I think I've got her

I can handle this..

All I have to do now is to forget that I am a qualified doctor and try to use Quack Logic.

scan man: I'm not very sure Dr. G, but as an ultrasound scan is cheaper, I think we should go with that first. If that shows a bowel-related abnormality like a segment of wall thickening or some mesenteric adenopathy, I may need to do a CT scan or even a Barium study…

G: That sounds good. Shall I send him over tomorrow morning..

Good. It seems to be working..

Now to get the patient to safety fast…

scan man: I don't think we should wait that long Dr. G. I'm sure I can fit him in this evening. Please ask him to be here by 4 PM.

G: Ok. I'll do that. Thanks for your help.

scan man: Glad to have been of service.

I did see the patient that evening, long enough to advise him to see our Internal Medicine guy.

He never had a scan done. I'm sure my colleague treated him for what sounded like infective diarrhoea.

And I'm pretty sure he got an earful about Quactitioners and how to avoid them.


1. Moof - May 15, 2006

Whoa Dr. Scan Man! Good catch there! :o)

Gee, don’t I hate it when someone tells me they’re following “their doctor’s advice” … only to find out that the “doc” is a naturopath. Some of those conscienceless people even have the audacity to tell their “patients” to stop taking their medications ..

And then something horrible happens to the patient, and the doctor has to try to pick up the pieces ….


2. It's me, T.J. - May 15, 2006

It’s good that you have such a good way on the phone.

Well, at least the bright side of this is that they DO send patients on referrals.

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