Friday, August 21, 2015

Dear Dr. Dumbass

For some time now, I have wanted to write a letter to the doctor who performed surgery on me two years ago and tell him exactly what I think of him and his arrogant, asinine attitude.

I keep thinking I should let it go, that it would serve no purpose, that I might even get sued for libel or something if I wrote it. Because let's face it, the jerk probably would do that, even he even read the letter.

It occurred to me, though, that I could, in fact, make a public declaration to Dr. Dumbass here on my blog. I've never mentioned Dr. Dumbass by name, so it could be any doctor in the world, really. And I fear this probably applies to many doctors, surgeons or not.

So for my own peace of mind, and because it is time, here is my letter.

Dear Dr. Dumbass:

I am sure you do not remember me. I initially met with you on a Thursday in late June two years ago, and after a cursory look at a radiology report and brief thump on my stomach, you agreed that my gallbladder needed to come out.

After hearing that I'd been constantly sick to my stomach for the better part of eight days (and dropped 12 pounds or so in the process), you said you had some time open the following afternoon and could do the surgery then. We raced off to do the prep work required by the hospital, getting the forms and bloodwork and all of that take care of, as you requested.

I told you multiple times that I'd had previous surgeries. You waved off my concerns about adhesions and scar tissue. "Never causes a problem," you said.

So that Friday we placed my life into your hands. I was terrified, and while the nurses were reassuring, you were not. You barely acknowledged my presence when you came in. You should have treated me as a special aunt, a family member, someone you cared about. I am not sure you ever even knew my name. I was just "fat body A" who needed a cut or two, I think.

My husband overheard you tell someone that you needed to get through the surgery quickly because you had a tennis match to get to.

I sincerely hope that whoever you were playing beat the hell out of you during that game. Maybe they threw a tennis racket at you and hit you upside the head.

You did your job. You took out my gallbladder. You forgot to leave orders for post-op pain killers, though, and I lay in agony for several hours before the nursing staff could run down someone who could tell them to administer the big gun drugs. My 23-hour stay at the hospital was like a badly performed circus routine from that point on, so much so that my husband was afraid to leave me for fear something else might go wrong.

None of that was supposedly your fault, though. You don't make mistakes, the nursing staff told me. Ever. Never does Dr. Dumbass make an error. If there were no post-op orders, it was because the hospital computer ate them.

When I saw you for my two-week post-op visit, you didn't remember me. You looked at the incision, cut out a stitch, and told me I was good to go. You never expected to hear from me again. When I questioned why I had severe pain four weeks after surgery, your staff ignored my calls. Finally, after a visit to the ER, I went back to see you about 10 weeks post-op. You walked in and looked at me like you'd never seen me before in your life. I told you about the pain. You barely touched me. "I don't know what this is, but it has nothing to do with the surgery I did," you said. You turned on your heel and walked out, leaving my husband and I to look at one another. You offered no relief, no other course of treatment, no suggestions. You got out of there as quickly as possible because, God forbid, you might have screwed up.

We thought you were a good doctor. The family had some experience with you and the outcome had been good for that person. Your online profile on the health-check websites sucks - you have no bedside manner, you don't follow up, you are careless and uncaring. I read that before the surgery but you'd done OK with the other family member, so we went ahead with you. My primary care doctor had recommended you, as well. And I was very sick and it was, quite simply, an emergency situation, or so I was told. When three different doctors tell you to get the gallbladder out or you're going to die, you kind of have to go with the advice.

Your operative notes were sparse and indicated that you took little time to see if there was any problem. Basically, you yanked out my gallbladder and sewed me up. I knew when I saw where you'd cut me that you had had no consideration for the state of my body, because you'd punctured a place where I already had a massive scar, cutting through that bulky tissue for whatever reason, because, I suppose, that was where you always made an incision and nothing was going to slow you down.

Maybe any doctor doing this surgery would have ultimately ended up disabling me. I will never know. But not every doctor would have dismissed me, nor treated me like I was simply a piece of meat to take a steak knife to. That is the way you treated me. You did not treat me like a human being, certainly not like someone you cared about, and certainly not like a good physician should treat a patient.

You were a jerk. It's been two years and I bet you still are a jerk because you have probably always been a jerk. I try to console myself with the thought that you have done good things for other people in the past. I was just the unlucky one. But I also wonder how many other unlucky ones you've neglected and rejected because you are an asshole. Three? Three hundred? At least a few, because they've left biting remarks about you on those websites I mentioned earlier. Your rankings range from 1 to 3. Nobody gives you a 5. Nobody likes you enough to do that.

It's not so much that you destroyed my life as it is that fact that you don't care, I think, that eats at me. You're supposed to be a healer. You're supposed to care. You're supposed to treat people with compassion and be human about the work that you do.

But you didn't and you weren't.

You were and you are a dumbass.


A former patient whose husband would hit you in the nose if he saw you.


  1. Have you been to Mayo Clinic or down to Duke? You have been in pain FAR too long. I had a dumass doctor once too, but thank goodness it was not a surgery situation, but I heard him tell someone in the hallway that he had to hurry up my appointment because he had a golf game to get too. People like that should have their license to practice taken away.

  2. Sometimes it helps to vent, even if the person for whom it is intended may never see it.

  3. I have my own Dr. Dumbass, who refused to check a knee injury I had after a bike accident, more concerned with my dislocated shoulder The shoulder is fine 13 years later, the knee never will be. My last visit with him lasted (I timed it) 4 minutes, 2 of which were spent critiquing a book I was reading during the 20 minute wait in the exam room. When he rushed out the door and I yelled after him about my knee, which he hadn't examined, he said it would be fine in time. 13 years?

    Were is Marcus Welby when you desperately want him???


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