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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No human is worthy of god status

One of the things about this job, is it is absolutely not predictable. When I left work Sunday we were finally down to to seven patients, and things were starting to look really good.

Sometimes I wish I had the power to predict a good night, but only God has that power.

I take two days off, and come back to work with 16 patients on breathing treatments. I'm not sure how many of these patients actually need these treatments, but that's beside the point.

The doctor thinks the treatments are needed, and that's really all that matters. Our RT bosses are more than happy to absorb the extra money they will generate. RT bosses aside, I want to take a moment to talk about doctors.

I know on this blog I spend a great deal of time writing about humor I find in stupid doctor orders. I know that there are people out there who think everything a doctor says or does is gold, but the truth is doctors are humans just like you and me. They are not gods.

On a similar note, I am not a god either. I read somewhere that kids think of their parents as gods. We are everything to them. They worship us. My kids worship me. It's true. My nine year old thinks I can't do wrong. He learned to love baseball because he wanted to impress his god -- me.

Truth be told, however, I am no god. I am not worthy. Just as a doctor is not worthy of god status. No disrespect here, it's just the truth.

However, like a god, I am feared by my kids. When you fear someone, it's because you respect that person. When you know there are consequences to disrespect, you have a tendency to spend a lot of time trying to be good, especially around the people you respect.

And, like the One God, if I do a good job of raising my kids, they will continue to make decisions not so much out of respect for me, but out of respect for themselves once I am not there for them, or once I am but a voice in the back of my child's mind acting as a conscious.

This voice saying: "Don't do that," or "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

So, while I am not a god, I am like a god to my kids. And, while doctors are not gods, they are like gods in the medical community. They are revered and honored in ways others are not.

When a doctor comes to the nurses station, I usually get up and offer him or her my seat. This used to be standard practice back when nurses used to have to wear those cool white caps, but it's a practice reserved for respectable people like myself.

Doctors are gods in a way that they are able to save lives. They are gods in that they have the ability to overrule any medical thought I have. I can have this idea that this treatment is completely useless, but if the doctor ordered it, I must do it (within certain limits).

In that sense, doctors are like gods.

Occasionally my fellow RTs or I approach the RT Bosses to see if we can do something to get doctors to stop writing orders we think are stupid. The RT Bosses treat doctors as gods, and therefore they don't want to do anything to over rule them.

I think it's funny how the medical staff has to stay awake for an entire 12 hour shift no matter how busy it is, but if it's slow a doctor has a bed that he can sleep in. If it gets busy, we just wake him up. This, in essense, is on par with god status.

We RTs can ask for something 100 times, but if a doctor asks for something once, it's as good as done. As least that's the take I have on most hospital administrations.

Despite my RT humor, I want my readers to know that I truly do respect doctors. I couldn't do HALF of what they do. I certainly wouldn't want to take the responsibility they have, and have to purchase the liability insurance that goes with that responsibility either.

Still, as with us dads, as with all people, doctors make mistakes. Doctors are prone to be stubborn. Doctors hold on to old fallacies that have been disproven since they left college. Doctors do order things based on habit, rather than based on science. Doctors order things that are not indicated. Doctors misdiagnose. Doctors screw up sometimes. Doctors have bad handwriting.

Sometimes they even have bad attitudes. And, of course, these fallacies go along with all the good that they do, which is why they EARN respect. It is true that any HUMAN -- not a god -- has to EARN R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Therefore, doctors are flawed just as all of us are flawed. They are not gods. Which is probably a good thing, because there is a lot of responsibility, I surmise, for a god. I'm sure a doctor wouldn't want THAT responsibility.

Which is why I have to cringe when I hear a nurse say: "The doctor ordered it, so it is needed." And I cringe when I listen to a patient telling me he knows nothing about his illness, and "I just rely on the doctor to tell me what to do."

Ummm, that would be just fine if doctors were, in fact, gods. But, the truth is, doctors are not gods. And, as we've decided by deduction, that is a good thing.

From an RT perspective, we go to school for 2.5 gruelling years learning the body as it pertains to the respiratory system and respiratory therapies inside and out. Not only that, but we have, in my case, ten years of respiratory experience, and even more experience for those of us of whom have respiratory illnesses.

My point is, we are the respiratory experts. While the doctor spends less than 10 minutes with each of his in-house patients per day, we RTs are there to give EVERY breathing treatment. We are right there to assess the patient before and after EVERY treatment -- and many times in between.

It doesn't take long to know when a treatment is needed or not. Therefore, it is a flaw for doctors (of whom we truly respect) to not utilize the respiratory knowledge and assessment skills of RTs to determine what RT therapies are indicated.

It's called using the resources available to you for the best interest of the patient, the RT, the nurses, and the doctor himself. It also benefits the economy, as frivolous therapies that are not indicated are not given.

So, while we can't call up a doctor and tell him how flawed we think he is -- we usually do the opposite out of respect, we here at the RT Cave like to find humor in this. Thus the humor link to the right.

In review: We RTs really do respect doctors, but we know they are not gods.

So, what got me on this tangent was the following quote from a member of COPD International regarding my blog:

"I loved this guy's blogs on 'Cave Rules'...especially about asthmatics and COPDers using fans and Albuterol not being a treatment for pneumonia. He and his fellow RTs certainly don't think of doctors as Gods!"
She is right, we don't think of doctors as gods, as well as we shouldn't. And no patient should either, lest he or she wants to gamble on one man's opinion.


Intubate Em!!! said...

Ditto ;)

HK said...

Kudos! :D

Mind Body Shop said...

From one Soul of the Universe are all Souls derived. . .Of these Souls there are many changes, some into a more fortunate estate, and some quite contrary. . .Not all human souls but only the pious ones are divine. Once separated from the body, and after the struggle to acquire piety, which consists in knowing God and injuring none, such a soul becomes all intelligence. The impious soul, however, punishes itself by seeking a human body to enter into, for no other body can receive a human soul it cannot enter the body of an animal devoid of reason. Divine law preserves the human soul from such infamy. . .The soul passeth from form to form and the mansions of her pilgrimage are manifold. Thou puttest off thy bodies as raiment and as vesture dost thou fold them up. Thou art from old, O Soul of Man yea, thou art from everlasting.