Friday, October 15, 2021

The trouble with experts …

… ‘The Deep Places’ Review: Patient, Heal Thyself. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Within days of acquiring the dream house, Mr. Douthat awoke with a stiff neck. He found “a red swelling” six inches down from his left ear. “It’s just a boil,” said a doctor, his insouciant declaration the first of many diagnoses in which it was claimed that there was nothing physically wrong with him. Lyme—a debilitating bacterial disease acquired from deer-tick bites—was ruled out because many of his symptoms didn’t match a rigid checklist drawn up for the ailment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This “diagnostic standardization,” Mr. Douthat writes, was “supposed to establish a consistent baseline for national case reporting, not rule out the possibility of atypical cases or constrain doctors from diagnosing them.” As a result of such inflexibility, he tells us, doctors miss “anywhere from a third to half of early Lyme cases.”

1 comment:

  1. Several reviews of Douthat's book have spurred me to place it on my to-read list, not least because of my family's experiences with chronic illness and pain. However, the title of the blog post is exasperating: there are good doctors and bad ones, thorough doctors and far too busy ones, caring doctors who recognise the limits of their knowledge and arrogant ones. I wish you'd step down from your soapbox, Frank, and recognise how irresponsible this sort of generalisation is in the age age of social media.

    (BTW: my very busy GP has tested me for Lyme disease twice, since the disease is considered very serious in these parts.)