Article Date: 4/1/2007

lessons learned


A Big Mistake

You can learn a lot about what not to do by paying attention to other practitioners

I can’t believe you bought a case of beer!” said the angry wife to her husband. “I thought we agreed to cut out all unnecessary purchases until we got out of debt.”

“You did the same thing,” remonstrated her husband. “This bill says you purchased $80 worth of cosmetics.”

“That’s different. I bought them to make myself beautiful for you.”

“Well, that’s what the beer is for too,” he unwisely replied.

Obviously, he made a big mistake! It’s often said we learn from our mistakes. But it’s even better to learn from the mistakes of others. You get the lesson without having to suffer the repercussions.

If it works

“If it works, it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, it probably ain’t working,” is, at my advanced age, the general rule relative to the various organs of the body. Thus, I find that my social life consists mostly of going to various types of doctors to obtain necessary repairs.

This gives me the opportunity to privately critique the communication-skill shortcomings of the various practitioners I see. A couple of these miscommunications are good examples of a mistake to avoid in your own practice; namely, not giving patients sufficient information about their conditions to enable them to help manage these problems.

I had noticed that I often became red-cheeked. Realizing it wasn’t the rosy cheeks of youth, nor blushing from modesty, I hied myself to a dermatologist. Without explaining my diagnosis, he gave me a prescription for an antibiotic cream, which didn’t help a lick.

A digression

 If I may digress, you may remember the story about Albert Einstein on a suburban train during his latter years of life. When the conductor collected tickets, Einstein searched his pockets but couldn’t find his. The conductor told him it was no problem because they were certain he had purchased one.

Einstein continued to search for the ticket anyway. When the conductor again told him he didn’t need it, Einstein replied, “You don’t understand. I have to find the ticket so I can remember where I’m going.”

Suffering from the same old age memory problem, it took a few weeks before I remembered a condition called Rosacea caused such redness. When I researched it, I found that it was obviously what I had and also obviously what the dermatologist had diagnosed.

Also, I discovered that there really wasn’t any cure. What he should have told me, but didn’t, was that there were resources where I could find things that could be done to manage it. I now go to a different dermatologist.

Another example

A similar experience had happened earlier with my late wife’s rheumatologist. During his regular check-up appointments for her Sjogren’s Syndrome, he never once gave any advice on how to best manage all aspects of the condition or where to go for such information.

Doing my own research, I discovered that the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation had books and literature that were of great help in managing her condition as best possible. This physician too was remiss in not communicating this information to us.

The lesson: If you’ll but pay attention, you can learn a lot about what not to do from the mistakes made by other practitioners.


Optometric Management, Issue: April 2007