Friday, October 28, 2011

To Do No Harm

Doctors take an oath "to do no harm." I wonder how many live up to that oath?
 I have been having some health concerns, nothing serious, but nonetheless bothersome. Based on one of my symptoms, the doc ordered a series of testing. One of the tests was a ct scan with contrast. I just had a regular ct scan last month in correlation to the same symptom. The procedure was scheduled for next Monday. I began to wonder about the risks of radiation and did a little online research about ct scans.

What I found shocked me. Ct scans with contrast expose a person to 10 years worth of radiation and carry a moderate risk of causing cancer. This information was from the FDA website, so it's doubtful it's embellished in anyway. WHAT???? I knew there was exposure to radiation, of course, but I didn't realize that carried "a moderate risk" of causing cancer. Why didn't the doc tell me about the risk??? I have already had 2 of these with not 1 mention of side cancer!?!?! Even though I always ask a myriad of questions, this 1 small detail was omitted.

Don't get me wrong, there are some AWESOME docs out there.....but they all need to tell their patients about the risks of the testing they do. It seems like it's just "standard procedure" to do a whole line-up of tests without a second thought.

I talked to the nurse and asked if what the test was looking for could be as serious as cancer. She told me that the test could identify cancer. I reminded her that my other testing came back non-malignant. She said although that was indeed a very good sign, there is still a possibility of a mass or something. I told her that the unknown possibility of that verses the VERY REAL risk of cancer is not something I was willing to risk.

Then her tone changed, "Debra, I'm sure doc wouldn't have ordered this testing unless he felt it was necessary." I responded, "You told me yourself that this is part of the standard routine." She said, "Yes, but on down the line, if you came down with something that the test could have shown, that would be unfortunate." I replied, "Yes, or I could come down with cancer from the testing." She laughed, "I guess that's true." I didn't think it was very funny.

The other 2 ct scans I had done were inconclusive. So 2 exposures to a moderate risk of cancer and nothing to show for it.

Do I have a point in telling you about this? Yes, please be very careful and ask a thousand questions and don't forget that the tests themselves sometimes carry a heavy price. Only we can make the appropriate decisions for our health care and I by no means am suggesting that you shouldn't have a ct scan, but make sure it's worth the risk.

1 comment:

  1. It's scary, Debi. Good job looking out for seems any more that you've just got to be your own advocate on *every* thing, because no one else will.