Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Radiologist blues


When I was a lecturer in the university, I got very irritated when my students demonstrated 'lack of common sense'.

Medical students are unique creatures; there are usually intelligent, capable of memmorising many things, giving 1001 rare differential diagnoses, but (now I begin to realise that) they are actually lack of common sense.

I used to think of that long time ago, but I kept pushing that idea to a deep corner of my head. Maklumlah, they are top scorers in their schools and colleges. But more often than not, when you asked them simple straight forward things, they could not give you the answer. They think that you simple questions are tricky, and give you around-the-corner answers. If I do post-grad teaching, it is usually highly 'technical' (or rather surgical), but if I take year IV medical students, it becomes philosophical. This is because I want to inculcate 'common sense' into their brains.
With teaching and training, they 'come back to their sense'. Many of them become good doctors after graduating, but some of them maintain this bad attitute in their professional life.
This is demostrated in this particular case.

This CT-scan film belongs to a 52 year old lady who came to me two days ago. She complained of a severe upper abdominal pain and a progressively enlarging mass in the area. Associated with that she had occasional fever, poor appetite and a weight loss of 16 kg in the past 6 weeks. The pain was so severe that it was only temporarily relieved by pethidine.
She was seen in three hospitals in the last 6 weeks, the last was on 26/03/09 on which a CT-scan was done. She was asked come back for the CT scan report on 26/05/2009 (The radiologist wrote TCA - 2 months, the nurse gave appointment on 26/05/09).
The scan above (taken in my hospital) shows a huge multicentric liver cancer, which is about to rupture (the severe pain is due to liver capsular stretching). I bet on 26/05/2009, she is already 6 feet underground. In the hospital her pain was only controlled with i/v Fentanyl PCA (patient control analgesia), Oxycontin and amytriptyline. Yet the 'good-thinking chap' requested 2 months to report a CT-scan of a terminally ill, dying mother of 5 children presented with an impending rupture of liver cancer.
Inilah yang dikatakan "ada akai tapi tak pakai" atau NO COMMON SENSE !

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