Choosing the Right ENT doctor

 

With the huge amount of medical information available in books and on the internet, patients are expected to be more knowledgeable and understand their medical conditions better. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The reason for this is simply the lack of perspective. Having the information and knowledge of a medical condition cannot make up for the lack of perspective that comes with experience in managing the condition day in day out. This puts the patient at a great disadvantage when faced with difficult decisions in the treatment of their medical condition. Ultimately, they need to trust their doctor. Sadly, not all doctors are trustworthy. This section aims to help patients sieve out (ENT) doctors who may not be acting in their (patients’) best interests.

Be wary of the (ENT) doctor who-

  1. uses the scare tactic – this is a common approach when wanting to convince a patient to have a certain treatment. A patient was once told that if he does not have surgery for his bad snoring, he may die in his sleep.
  2. pressurizes you into having surgery – beware of the (ENT) surgeon who tells you that you must have surgery immediately, as in the next day. Very few (if any at all) ENT conditions require immediate surgery or treatment the next day. It is always wise to take a few days to think carefully before deciding on the best treatment. Waiting a few days won’t affect the long-term outcome of your condition, rushing into surgery may.
  3. says your case is the worst he’s seen – you may be ONE of the worst the doctor’s seen, unlikely the worst. It’s said to give you the impression you need urgent treatment. If you are really the worst he’s seen, either he’s seen very few patients, or you are in really big trouble.
  4. does not give you options – doctors should always give patients treatment options. Some options may have a better chance of the desired outcome but there should always be options to consider.
  5. sells himself too much, tries to overly impress you with his achievements in Singapore, advertising medical services is legal. This gives doctors the opportunity to advertise their qualifications and achievements. There is nothing wrong with listing one’s achievements. Just be careful when it’s done excessively. This may come on the doctor’s website or in his clinic. Again, bombarding patients excessively with one’s achievements and qualifications is aimed at giving you the impression the doctor is the only one to solve your problem. How much is too much? Your gut feeling will tell you when it’s too much.
  6. is prepared to blatantly lie to your company or medical insurers about your medical condition so that you can have surgery he’s recommended this is fairly simple to understand. If the doctor is willing to deceive your medical insurer, he will probably be willing to deceive you too. See unlawful medical cases 1, 2, 3. Medical insurance fraud is a serious offence, punishable with a jail term and suspension of medical practicing license.

Conclusion: Patients must feel comfortable with their doctor and the recommendations he or she makes for the medical condition. The doctor’s role is one of a professional advisor and informant. Ultimately, the patient needs to make the decision. When in doubt, get a second opinion, talk to your family doctor and ask him or her for another referral.

Dr Gerard Chee

MBBS (S'pore), FRCS (Edin), FRCS (Glasg) Fellow, Otology / Neurotology (Can)

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