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A Riddle: When Is the “Best Doctor” Not the Best Doctor?

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A Riddle: When Is the “Best Doctor” Not the Best Doctor?

… followed by a second riddle: When Is the “Best Hospital” Not the Best Hospital? Everyone loves a good riddle. I think it’s because the answer is often clever, maybe a play on words. We chuckle (or groan!) at the answer, and sometimes the first riddle will trigger a handful more… just fun. I wish I could tell you these two are clever, chuckle-inducing riddles, too. Unfortunately, not only aren’t they funny; they can be deadly. There are two circumstances under which the description of “best” in relationship to medical professionals or facilities needs to be reconsidered. Circumstance #1: “I need knee replacement surgery, so I’ve chosen the best ortho surgeon in town!” my neighbor Joe told me after putting up with a bum knee for years. I had to ask him, “What makes that ortho the best? And why?” Joe’s reply was that he asked around and “Everyone told me to call him.” What Joe couldn’t answer was “why?” And as it turned out, after a bit of research, the “best ortho surgeon in town” did have great ratings and a good track record – for shoulder surgery. Now that may not seem like too big a stretch – if that surgeon is good at replacing shoulders, he might be good with knee replacement surgery, too… But – how can we know? It’s a little like saying that just because your auto mechanic has a great reputation for rebuilding a transmission, it means he might also do a great job replacing a broken axle, or fixing your steering. Or if a lawyer is good at drawing up your last will and testament, she might also be able to keep you out of prison…. But how can we know that? I think we all want “the best” when it comes time for our care, but we must be sure we’re comparing apples to apples, and applying that label under the right circumstances. So – back to riddle #1: when is the “Best Doctor” not really the best doctor? When his or her area of specialty is really something else. A very important distinction. Circumstance / Riddle #2: The answer to riddle #2 will also inform our question about the “Best Doctor” but it’s probably more likely you’ve had this experience in relation to your local hospital. When Joe first went in search of an ortho for his knee replacement, he…


 

 

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