Have you ever left your doctor's office feeling traumatized? I'm not talking about the reaction to a diagnosis -- I'm talking about being emotionally traumatized by your doctor's treatment of you. I hear it all the time from people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome -- their doctors treat them so poorly that appointments put them through an emotional wringer. So much for "do no harm," eh?
The harm these doctor inflict on us goes farther than just ruining our day or possibly causing a symptom flare-up. According to one prominent ME/CFS researcher, it may actually lead to another medical condition. I want to thank one of my fellow bloggers and twitter friend, username ME/CFS Unite, for bringing this quote to my attention:
"I've had patients who met post-traumatic stress disorder criteria . . . where their trauma was their interaction with their physician around this illness. They came to a doctor with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; they left the doctor with PTSD." - Nancy Klimas, M.D., Miami Herald, March 24, 2009
That's pretty profound, to have one doctor accusing her colleagues of causing a seriously illness in their already debilitated patients.
- Learn more about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
As I've said before, I'm incredibly lucky to have somehow found doctor after doctor who accepts my FMS diagnosis fully and, no matter the specialty, understands that I have special considerations. I wish everyone could have that same experience, but I know that it's the exception to the rule.
It's easy to say that someone whose doctor is causing them harm should find someone else; it's much harder to actually find someone better. We have a critical shortage of doctors who believe in our conditions and have any idea how to treat them. We face limitations due to our insurance companies or where we live. And when these guys are actually nasty enough to cause PTSD in a patient, it's hard to imagine they'd be accepting of our attempts to re-educate them.
Whether you're stuck with a jerk or you move on to another doctor, worse for wear, you shouldn't just accept this kind of treatment. All doctors have to report to someone -- your state licenses doctors, and you can make a complaint to the registration board. Doctors are overseen by organizations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and/or associations for their specialty, and you can make complaints to them. Also, unless your doctor is in private practice, he or she has an administrator to answer to.
The AMA has links to help you figure out how to complain about your doctor:
Do you feel your doctor has cause PTSD or other emotional trauma in you? How have you dealt with the doctor, and with the resulting health problems? Take the poll, and share your experience below!
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