Teaching hospitals are VITAL to the success of future medicine. Do NOT be afraid of them. Some of the best surgeons in the world are employed by them. But with any surgery, you are the most vested and the single best advocate for yourself and/or your family member. Don't avoid teaching hospitals because of our story. Instead, become educated about a practice that's happening nationwide. You can then expect the same care from a teaching hospital, if not even better, than from a private one.
Respect Your Medical Residents
Medical school IS NOT easy. It's grueling. But the complexities of the human body, the range of treatments, conditions, medications and medical trials are so vast and in-depth that even after graduating medical school there's still much to learn. And remember, doctors and scientists around the world are making new discoveries everyday and publish them, only to be refuted by another doctor or scientist who finds something to contradict that new evidence.
To add further complexity, pharmaceutical companies and labs are discovering new treatments and developing promising drug therapies. In the area of genetics alone, geneticists have identified over 200,000 new gene variants over the last ten years. Many of these variants cause symptoms and health risks which must first be identified by a doctor.
In summary, both integrated and specialized medicine are constantly evolving. We can't imagine how hard it must be to keep up with ever evolving discoveries. First and second year residents not only have to keep up with the latest discoveries, warnings and trends in medicine but are also tasked with the duty to learn everything they need during each rotation. Can you imagine the mental stamina this must take? Now imagine working 12 hour shifts and then getting paged in the middle of sleep to have to go to a patient's room because of a problem. Residents work incredibly hard. They deserve our respect. And they need patients to treat if, as a nation, we want our country to continue to have specialists who have the knowledge that few others have.
When I think about a doctor's residency, it reminds me of the Chinese Proverb by Confucius, pictured below.
As Jack's parents, we respect residents. We appreciate them and wish them a successful career in medicine. Without them, the children of our future won't have knowledge, expert specialists who can be treated. Teaching hospitals are the ONLY reason we have the doctors and experts in medicine that we have today.
Where the problem arises is not in the residents, but instead in the pace. The problem is putting residents into positions where they must take on tasks they're not prepared to undertake. The problem is scheduling residents to do surgical tasks independently when they've only done such tasks a small number of times with supervision. Finally, the problem is greed.
Teaching hospitals are eager to make money. Residents, paid very little for the amount of work that they do, are also eager to make money. By overlapping and/or double booking surgeries, the hospital can serve twice the number of patients while also doubling the amount of money they make. To make this happen, residents are pushed through rotations too quickly, resulting in a depth of knowledge that's an inch thick and a mile wide. While their knowledge evens out as the years go on, those first and second years are critical regarding direct supervision. This is not only in the best interest of the patient but for the doctors and hospital in general. That resident will hold a cloud of guilt and shame over his/her head for the rest of his/her life. As for Jack and ourselves as his parents, we will hold a cloud of traumatic memories, feelings of being violated, as well as anger and resentment. Ever heard of moonlighting? We hadn't either until our son's ghost surgeries. So long as you're a second year resident with a state license, you can go in and pick up a case, even if you're not fully equipped to do so, and make thousands of dollars for performing that surgery so long as it's not during your scheduled work time.
No one wins when a resident is thrown into battle without the training, artillery and ammunition needed in order to be successful. It is the job of the attending instructor to ensure he/she never places that doctor, the beginnings of just a seedling, into such a precarious position. It risks lives and it risks the reputation and medical license of the resident who just put in 8+ years of higher education. Those are residents who saw dreams and aspirations and dedicated themselves and their financial stability to it. And because of greed, the ability to bill for two surgeries at one time, the good name and reputation of that resident can be whisked away, stolen within less than one hour's time.
Finally, it's risks the reputation of the hospital. How many surgeons at The Mayo Clinic have had to carry this weight, even though they weren't part of it.
We do not have unrealistic expectations. We know mistakes happen and so long as they aren't preventable or reoccurring, we offer grace. But what happened to our son was so egregious, so careless and so unethical that we must come forward. This can't happen to anyone else.
Ghost Surgeries, LLC. PO BOX 908 Milford, OH, 45150