Doctor with no Empathy

Recently, I was been referred to see an anesthesiologist to assess if I am eligible for a very specific and relatively new surgery - cutting a nerve on my spine to treat my lower back pin. I have no idea if this a good idea or not!  I was very happy with our health system until l met this "doctor" - an anesthesiologist that I was referred to.  The first visit was at the Burnaby hospital. He spent near an hour with my wife and I giving us a medical lesson about the human spine which he mentioned we would not understand unless we completed a 5 year medical program.  And he told us that we are so lucky to have his advise and consultation because usually his patient only have 5 minutes per visit.  Anyway, I was in excruciating pain and he started to play the role of a psychiatrist. In the end, we finally figured out that he disagreed with my other doctor's suggestion (i.e., the doctor who referred me to see this guy) and instead he wanted to do an Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI). Without explaining any of the potential complications he give us two choices: go home to do our own research or do the ESI shot today.  I was very angry but really what choice did I have and I was desperate to get rid of my pain. Then, the nightmare began. He did the injection without using a local anesthetic. The pain brought tears to my eyes. I had never experienced pain like this in my entire life! I believe that he had done procedure without giving me a local anesthetic.

I then went to his clinic 9 days later for my second shot. Before the visit, my wife and I did some research. Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI) is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, doctors introduce ESI for patients who have lower back pain. For some people, but not everyone, after 2 to 3 ESI shots, the pain could be reduced. The risk is huge: infections, spinal fluid leaks, positional headaches, adhesive arachnoiditis , hydrocephalus, air embolism, urinary retention, allergic reactions, intravascular injections, stroke, blindness, neurological deficits/paralysis, seizures, and death. OMG!  I feel like a Guinea Pig and what a feeling of hopelessness. Based on my research, I believe that some doctors tell patients to do an ESI because they want to make more money.  As more and more people suffer from chronic back pain, many of them turn to this option not completely understanding the risks and that it is only for short term relief if it even works! 

I went to his temporary clinic (he rents this office space once a week), waited for 45 minutes, and then I finally get to see him. I didn't even have a chance to express my concerns while he was insisting that I pay $50.00 for the kit which he told me it would be free when I was in the hospital. He said I have two choices (again): he will write me a prescription and I can go pick it up from pharmacy but there was no guarantee he will be have time for me today or pay him now - cash only - and he would give me the shot!  As this point, I almost wanted to punch him in the face - especially when he said I have to pay first and then I would get the shot! My wife went to the receptionist to pay. While she was holding a $50.00 bill and waiting for the receptionist to finish her phone call, the doctor came up to my wife and literally grabbed the money from her and shoved it into his front pocket. She was shocked by his lack of professionalism. The second shot also hurt but not as much as the first one. My wife was there to witness the whole procedure and make sure he administered the local anesthetic. Her impression was his rough and reckless.

I honestly don't know how many these doctors there are in the medical system. I am here telling my story just want to warn everyone to be aware that some doctors are driven by profit rather that providing the best care for their patients. What - they don't make enough money already!


anontoo's picture

Hey Earl, thats shocking! I empathise with your excruciating pain and wanting to aleviate it which made you open to all options. It's too bad that sometimes when we seek help we run into people who are all too willing to cash in on our predicament. I don't know how to go about ousting this guy but good on you to let people know and hopefully the exposure will get this quack out of the system before he hurts (and scams) someone else. Good luck

Charlotte's picture

That is crazy!! what an awful thing to go through! I think "specialists' in general should also take a course in how to be human.. All too often even though they are "highly recommended" they most often lack people skills.. This guy sounds like a real jerk and in it for the money as well!.. So sorry to hear you had to go through that..

I don't know anything about your back pain but have you heard about prolotherapy? I have heard it's helped a few  people but really I have no idea what it is or what all is involved..

I hope you find something that works for you..


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