On August 28, nearly a month after I put it up, the following comment was posted:
"Dr Worthless: Pretty much every neurologist in my metropolitan area. I am sick and tired of managing issues that fall into the realm of neurology because of the laziness of your specialty. I really miss the days when a neurologist could actually make a diagnosis without an MRI."
Here is my rebuttal:
Dear Dr. Whoever You Are:
Thank you for kindly painting all neurologists with the same brush.
I'm sorry some in your area aren't up to your personal standards in work ethics. By a similar definition I know some "lazy" internists who seem to feel that I should be treating bladder infections, sinus problems, or foot ulcers simply on the grounds that the patients also have a neurological disorder, and therefore tell them to call me for their general medicine needs. So I suppose I could say I'm sick and tired of managing issues that fall into the realm of general medicine because of the laziness of your specialty.
But I won't do that. To make generalizations based on 1 or 2 people is what leads to idiotic stereotypes. I'm sorry you feel that way based on the few neurologists you've encountered. So stop referring to them and find others.
Please try to keep in mind that medicine is a team sport. When you view other doctors (or nurses, or whatever) as the opposition, the only person who really loses is the patient.
Diagnosing people without an MRI is fairly easy. I (and many other hard-working neurologists) do it every day. Bear in mind that many neurological conditions (migraines, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, Bell's palsy, and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few) are clinical diagnoses. This means they're based on what the doctor thinks after taking a history and doing an exam. The purpose of MRI's (which, I admit, are often overused) is usually to exclude other causes, rather than confirm the diagnosis.
MRI's, like all forms of technology, are like genies. You can't put them back in the bottle. If you don't like it, perhaps you should consider going back to the days when an internist could actually make a diagnosis without a CBC. Or CMP. Or stethoscope (after all, in 1840 the flexible binaural stethoscope was cutting edge). MRI's may be overused, but I find them to be more effective at excluding/confirming serious neurological disorders than sacrificing chickens over the patient and dancing naked under the moon.
I'm going to guess that you've never been sued (I have). Nowadays you can get legally reamed out for NOT ordering tests, regardless of any guidelines that say it's fine not to do them. You can tell me that I'm practicing defensive medicine, and guess what? I don't care. If doing everything I can to protect my family and my livelihood is being lazy, than so be it.
Ordering a test often has more to do with CYA than diagnostics in ANY branch of medicine. If you have some magic power that exempts you from legal action and allows you to make 100% accurate diagnoses without using that newfangled stuff, than you have my respect for being a better physician than little old me.
Ibee Grumpy, M.D.