Tuesday, January 17, 2006

this does not inspire confidence

I take my kids to a pediatric practice that has three different offices and dozens of pediatricians. Nevertheless, I have always scheduled the children's "well visits" with Dr W, because we held similar views on nutrition and child development. She had even worked with the founder of my kids' preschool to help develop the curriculum for the parent-toddler interaction class -- which, for those of you rolling your eyes, actually was a lot of fun and has helped many a parent understand what toddlers can and can't do.

She always seemed to have her head screwed on straight, even though she did make me take DS1 in for a developmental assessment (as in: test for learning disabilities) when he had just turned 5 because he refused to write his name for her. It was annoying that she wouldn't take my word for it that he was just being stubborn. The school counselor who did the assessment said my son was the brightest kid she had ever had to assess.

Still, over five or six years, caring for three different children, we usually saw each other several times a year, and we usually saw eye-to-eye. So, whenever one of my kids needs a doctor for something, I'd always ask for Dr. W first. She was "our" doctor.

I heard the first rumblings that something odd was going on when I took DS2 in for his strep throat back before Christmas -- Dr. W was out on leave and would be back after the first of the year. OK, that's none of my business, we'll just see someone else, I thought.

Now it is after the first of the year, and when I again had to take DS2 in (the ear infection), I learn that Dr. W has left the practice.

Well, now my curiosity is piqued. I really like this practice, so I'm not sure I'd follow Dr. W to another practice, but I would consider it, depending. So I asked the scheduler, Has she joined another practice?

Did you ever learn a single fact about someone that caused you to re-evaluate your entire opinion of them? Well, that's what happened to me here, because the scheduler replied, She's finishing her studies in homeopathy, and she'll be joining a homeopathic practice.


What makes a board certified pediatrician, a Pediatric Fellow!, abandon all that and go full-tilt into practicing a baseless, thoroughly debunked "science"? The only semi-plausible explanation I can come up with is mid-life crisis, but does that usually entail professional suicide?

I really don't understand this at all -- this woman spent 15 minutes discussing flu vaccines with me last year, trying to convince me to get one because of my status as a cancer patient. (Understand that I'm not anti-vaccine at all, and if there was only one single flu virus, and an effective vaccine against it, I'd be first in line to get that shot. My kids have all their vaccinations, too. But the fact is that the flu vaccine is a best-guess mixture of what some scientists think are going to be this year's big flu virii, and it won't do you a bit of good if you contract a different flu virus. My preferred method of combatting flu is prevention.)

I don't know what happened to Dr. W, and I do wish her well in her new professional life. That said, if she really is becoming a homeopath, I'm profoundly relieved she won't be treating my children anymore.


Sheik Yerbootie said...

You sure you live near Pheonix and not Sedona?

Homeopaths are an odd sort, but strangely, they are all incredibly qualified as MDs. We have a couple locally - one was a surgeon and the other a oncologist who my oldest daughter knows pretty well - highly qualified, all Fellows of their particular speciality - it's just at some point, they decide that practicing regular medicine isn't worthwhile.

My daughter claims that it's really all about over reaction to pressure - it's much easier to spout mumbo jumbo than try and explain complex medicine to patients who put their whole trust in what you say.

Plus, it's very profitable.

Jim Hubbard, M.D. said...

I use laparoscopy and Lupron for endometriosis, C-section for fetal distress and obstructed labor, and appropriate antibiotics and surgery for pelvic infections.

There is a significant degree of predictability and reliability along with a logic to western medicine.

But something has always bothered me. Does the predictability and reliability, and logic, of western medicine preclude any other system from having an effect on physiology?

Joan said...

Does the predictability and reliability, and logic, of western medicine preclude any other system from having an effect on physiology?

Certainly not. Accupuncture, meditation, and yoga are all Eastern techniques that have been demonstrated to be effective. Acupuncture, which once seemed like magic, makes sense now that we know more about the nervous system, doesn't it? Or is it still all one big mystery, the mechanism by which it works? All I know is, there is a mechanism, and it is a testable, provable treatment.

Unlike homeopathic applications, which rely on explanations like "the memory of water", and which have yet to be verifiably reproduced.

The placebo effect, the power of positive thinking, and the power of prayer are all examples of things which we know can lead to improvement in a patient's condition, but they land in the inexplicable (aka "magic") category. If homeopathic remedies "work," I would bet that it's either coincidence or placebo effect. Show me the data, I say.

And I maintain that it's disheartening that a medical professional I once trusted is apparently turning her back on her entire career to become a charlatan.