“Doctor here. I will diagnose myself and write scripts or as a partner for things like flu, tendinitis, etc. I go to a derm friend every 6-12 months for a mole check. Other big things I’ll ask friends I trust who are doctors.” says the doctor going by _Gphill_, which seems like it may be a blurred line – is it okay to write your own prescriptions? Should doctors be allowed to do this? It seems like it should always be looked at by another doctor, even for the less serious things.
They continue: “The major problem this question leads to but may not ask do you call in sick when you are a doctor. In 9 years of private practice, I haven’t missed a day, despite being sick. There was an article a few years ago that labeled it a Presenteeism instead of absenteeism. It’s showing up when you shouldn’t. Personally, I don’t want to inconvenience people who have missed work or waited on a result, and I don’t want to dump on my partners. Lots of handwashing and apologies for staying far back during conversations.”
“My father is a doc. He had been having shortness of breath and chest tightness worsening over a few months. One day, after work was done and the clinic was closed, he hopped in the CT scanner and read his own CT scan. Massively enlarged lymph nodes all through his body – lymphoma. He’s alive and well after diagnosing himself with cancer years ago!” MrsRodgers’s father had an outcome after having a scary diagnosis. It’s a good thing they did the CT scan, and here is an update on how he is doing years later:
“EDIT: Holy crap, this blew up. To address FAQs: he is a partner in a private practice group that owns their own outpatient centers. Thus he was able to use the scanner informally. Yes, I know we are privileged to be a medical family, and he is so lucky to have access to care that isn’t affordable for a huge chunk of the US population. MEDICARE FOR ALL. I’m not sure if he had a partner stay behind to help with the scanner. I’ll have to ask. And he is 17 or so odd years in remission from stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and doing fantastic. Retiring in a month after 45 years in radiology!”
“Okay, so my dad is a doctor, and one time when I was around 7, he fell out of a tree directly onto a rock while we were camping, and he had a giant scrape on his side. He told us he was okay and nothing was wrong, so we left as planned and canoed back to our car without incident, besides my mom constantly telling him to stop paddling because of his side and him telling her everything was fine. He basically just said it was a scrape and nothing was wrong.” says The_Chief_Zev, but that’s not their dad’s only misfortune. Keep reading to see what really happened.
“About a week later, he was having trouble BREATHING, and he still wouldn’t go see a doctor because he self-diagnosed that he was okay, so my mom had to FORCE him to go to the hospital and get an x-ray done, and it turns out he had two broken ribs. So not only do doctors self-diagnose themselves, but they’re also pretty dumb when they’re doing it. TLDR: my dad’s a doctor/idiot, and he wrongly self diagnoses himself all the time because he thinks he’s immortal or something.”
“I’m the audiologist at an ENT office; there are two more audiologists that work at our “subdivision” hearing aid clinic. I do everything in my power to avoid calling out sick because I know that a) they HATE covering the ENT schedule and b) their patients will have to be rescheduled. Everyone is inconvenienced, and we lose money.” explains Crazydisneycatlady, which is understandable. Everyone gets sick, and unfortunately, people need to be covered at their job from time to time.
“However, as an audiologist…if I’m so sick that I can’t talk, there’s little point to me doing my job. I’ve called in sick four times in the past 2+ years. I had a horrible cold (one sick day) that improved, I went on vacation, and when I came back, it reared up again (another sick day). I also had strep throat earlier this year, so I had to take two days for antibiotics to fully kick in since I picked them up in the afternoon – the throat pain waking me up from a dead sleep was a big clue for that one.”
8. None of us are perfect, but we should listen to the advice from our doctors.
“Middle-aged doctor here. Most of the docs I work with are obsessed with preventive care, so we try to keep the cardiovascular risk factors under control. We take our blood pressure drugs, our statins, and our metformin if we need it. We’re not perfect, especially me, but we tend to exercise, and we watch what we eat. I know one doctor who still smokes, but he’s a rarity, and he’s practically a tourist attraction, like a two-headed calf in a village museum or something.”
Throwaway9045235360 eats right and exercises, which is what a lot of us try to do. We are all human, though, and sometimes slip up. They continue: “The observation is probably correct that when doctors have a symptom, we tend to downplay or ignore it. And I believe we tend to decline therapy. I have a couple of minor orthopedic ailments that my doctor has suggested I have fixed. I laugh. I’ve known a couple of docs who declined treatment for cancer.”
7. “I’ll feel sorry for myself and watch Netflix on the couch.”
“The emergency doctor here – my specialty means I’m usually thinking in ‘worst case scenario’ or ‘what can’t I miss’ when I’m seeing patients. I usually end up thinking along similar lines when it’s myself as well. Things like ‘Could I have a lower respiratory tract, or do I have pneumonia? It’s probably the former, and if it’s the latter, I’ll get worse, and I can go see someone for antibiotics later on/go to ED if I’m persistently tachycardic, tachypnoeic, febrile with rigors, etc. In the meantime, I’ll feel sorry for myself and watch Netflix on the couch.'”
“I also think about what the actual management would be if I had the illness that I might be worried about in the first place. For example, I had a nasty fall onto my flexed knee the other day, and it was exquisitely tender. I was almost sure it was just a bad bruise, but I knew if I DID have a fracture, it would probably be for conservative (non-operative) management anyway, so I just limped around for a week or so.” DrTickle28 is right – sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems. However, it probably would have been best to get it checked out to be safe.
6. Take a personal day for your own health and your family’s health.
“My wife is a doctor in Canada. She works in a small practice with five doctors. One of them is her family physician that she will see with an official appointment, seeing as a patient and not a colleague. Everything is documented in the ERM software. If she gets sick, you power through the day and see your patients. You can’t just call in sick as you have 20-30 patients booked and no one to cover you. You don’t get time off or sick leave. She then comes home and does charting for a couple of hours and dies in bed, and does it all over again the next morning.”
“Doctors cannot afford to be sick. Financially or for their patients that will be pissed if you rebook their appointments last minute.” Scootbert is right, and as a society, we have come to expect the best from our doctors. But they are human too, and we need to be kind of they need to rebook an appointment. You never know when someone has to call in for a personal day, whether it be for their family or for themselves.
“Not a doctor here. Paramedic. We’re even worse patients than doctors because we like to think we know what’s going on and get no time off to actually be sick. Often times we come to work sicker than most of the people we pick up in our ambulance. We self-diagnose, and if it doesn’t require a prescription or surgeon, we make do with duct tape and NSAIDs. If we DO require actual medical intervention, we do all the things we hate when our patients do it to us.”
“We tell them where to start IVs. We ask to see imaging and lab results. If there was a way for us to stay awake and assist in our own surgery, we’d do that too! The last time I was getting an IV pre-OP (shoulder repair), I was unintentionally telling the nurse where I preferred the IV. The nurse said if I didn’t cut it out, she’d find a much less pleasant spot to place the IV. My wife, also a medic, agreed with her and told her to use a much larger needle too. I shut up, haha” IVStarter was right to leave the doctor taking care of them to do the procedure! No one likes a “backseat driver.”
4. If you have the coverage and knowledge, use it!
“For context, US MD, licensed and double boarded. My aim is to live as long as possible and be as healthy as possible during that time. I feel confident to make most diagnoses knowing my history. However, I’ve seen enough to know that it’s better to be totally sure than not when it comes to most things because there’s always a non-zero percent chance that it’s something rare and deadly. For colds, supportive care, and no antibiotics. Blood in the stool, colonoscopy tomorrow. I pay for insurance so that it’s there when I need it. I’m not hesitant to use it. Also, I know specialists of all types.”
It sounds like DoctorJonesMD has it all figured out. They continue: “When I need another set of eyes or a second or third opinion, they’re just a text away. I do all age-appropriate cancer screening early just because I have the access. Life insurance is locked into a great rate, so there’s no financial harm to me being a bit more paranoid. Another thing, if I have a bad virus, I’m staying home. No reason to infect all of my patients with something that they may be less equipped to fight off. I get the flu shot at the start of each season despite never having had the flu. And I get the appropriate vaccines when I travel. I take vitamins because they could potentially help. Just a multivitamin, vitamin D, and fish oil.”
3. You can self-diagnose to a point, but if it’s serious, see your doctor.
“I have on many occasions used online resources to help decide if my symptom is worth seeing a specialist for or escalating (not WebMD obviously, use UpToDate or PubMed). If it’s something serious that I can’t deal with myself, either with time or over-the-counter medication, I would definitely see my general physician either for treatment or specialist referral. I basically just become a regular patient but with an insider perspective on the system and some pre-formed opinions on my own diagnosis.” Ninjase sounds like they’ve got a good routine figured out for when they aren’t feeling great.
They continue: “Currently, I’m dealing with annoying palpitations. I got an ECG at work which showed frequent ectopics. At the moment, I’m sitting on it debating if I should bother seeing a cardiologist or if it will just disappear since most cases are completely benign and self-limiting. In terms of prescription, I would never prescribe myself new medication for acute illness. I only self prescribe to renew old scripts that I can’t be bothered getting. The worst thing is getting medical certificates for work since I can’t write them myself, and it’s a huge waste of everyone’s time just to get a piece of paper saying I have the flu.”
“Well, my wife can tell you I make the worst patient. I take out my own stitches and tend not to follow post OP instructions too well. I certainly try not to diagnose myself as now I can’t tell if I’m overreacting or underreacting, but when I do get symptoms, boy does my brain feel a little like WebMD sometimes. And I can’t stand being in a Dr’s office, ex. I had to go to a dermatologist, and the whole time in the waiting room, I was thinking about the prognosis of various stages of melanoma I could have. It was benign, of course.”
“I injured my knee badly playing soccer and was at work the next day, borrowed some crutches from physical therapy so I could hobble around and see patients, only got it imaged a month later as my wife had enough, turns out I tore my ACL and lateral meniscus, had to take a week off for surgery sadly. Just the other day at work, I had acute RUQ pain, positive Murphy’s and right shoulder pain, though I had a gallstone, just rode it out in the call room after seeing my patients. I guess I’m terrified of showing up in the ED saying, “I’m a doctor. I think it’s XYZ,” and finding out it’s nothing, and I’m just being pathetic, haha.” Drprocrastinate should never be worried if it’s something else; it’s okay to brainstorm and figure it out to get the best care!
“My husband is a family medicine doc, and he won’t go to the doctor. He found out a year or so ago that he’s diabetic. He’s ashamed because of the stigma, in medicine, associated with diabetes. He takes metformin (self-prescribed) but refuses to use insulin or talk about it. He’s in exquisite pain all of the time (he has had back pain for 20+ years… I think this is making it worse). Just last week, he had two episodes of being incontinent which have never happened before. I sent a long email to a colleague/friend of his. I can’t look back and wish I had done something, and enough is enough.”
Good for 662grace for knowing when to take more action for their husband. Hopefully, it won’t be too late, and he will start taking better care of himself. They continue: “His colleague returns from a vacation tomorrow, so I expect I’ll hear from him soon. My husband knows I sent the email but knows he has no choice in the matter. I love my husband. He is a wonderful, caring physician who is 49 years old and refuses to do anything for his own health, which is going to kill him.”