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What Your Doctor Won't Tell You

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Want You To Know This:

• Avoid Friday afternoon surgery. The day after surgery is when most problems happen. If the next day is Saturday, you're flying by yourself without a safety net, because the units are understaffed and ERs are overwhelmed because doctors' offices are closed.
--Heart surgeon, New York, N.Y.

• Everyone thinks all doctors know one another. But when we refer you to specialists, we often have no idea who those people are. Generally, we only know that they accept your insurance plan. --Pediatrician, Hartsdale, New York

• At least a third of what doctors decide is fairly arbitrary. --Heart surgeon, New York, N.Y.

Are under pressure:

• In many ways, doctors are held to an unrealistic standard. We are never, ever allowed to make a mistake. I don't know anybody who can live that way. -- James Dillard, MD:

• It saddens me that my lifelong enjoyment and enthusiasm for medicine has all but died. I have watched reimbursement shrink, and have been forced to take on more patients. I work 12- to 14-hour days and come in on weekends. It's still the most amazing job in the world, but I am exhausted all the time.
--Vance Harris, MD, family physician, Redding, California

• Not a day goes by when I don't think about the potential for being sued. It makes me give patients a lot of unnecessary tests that are potentially harmful, just so I don't miss an injury or problem that comes back to haunt me in the form of a lawsuit.
--ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Really care about you:
• If a sick patient comes to me with a really sad story and asks for a discount, I take care of him or her for no charge. --Surgeon, Dallas/Fort Worth

• Though we don't cry in front of you, we sometimes do cry about your situation at home.
--Pediatrician, Chicago

"Although these responses may seem shocking, they're really just reflective of the frustration many doctors feel," says Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D. "Society holds physicians to unrealistic standards of perfection but the truth is, even the best doctors can get sued."

"That said, doctors truly care about their patients and want the best for them. When you strip away all the tears and pressure, it's the best job in the world."

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