Cause of Death: Physician Prejudice


Physicians are so blinded by psychiatric diagnoses that they cease to be able to function as competent diagnosticians.  In the eyes of physicians, if you have a psychiatric diagnosis then that is the cause of all your problems.  Your body no longer is prone to normal human illnesses:  you’re crazy, and that explains everything.

Case One:  A woman with a psychiatric diagnosis develops tiredness, weight loss and pain.  She goes to her physician, who tells her there’s nothing wrong with her.  She goes to him repeatedly, and may or may not have been referred to specialists.  This goes on for months.  Finally her physician tells her that her problems are side effects of her psychiatric drugs, so her psychiatrist takes her off all psych meds.  She’s not terribly crazy, can get along for a while without medication, and they really need to get to the bottom of what’s causing her pain.  Without psych meds, she continues to be sick.

            On a Sunday afternoon, she finally goes to the Emergency Room.  She is found to be anemic and the physician wants to admit her for treatment but by now she’s fed up with the entire medical profession, so she refuses hospitalization but accepts treatment.  A week later, she’s back in the ER.  This time the ER physician has wit enough to order a CT scan.

            She has bone cancer from head to toe and dies a couple weeks later.

Case Two:  A woman goes to the Emergency Room stating that she has such excruciating pain in her left leg that she can’t stand on it.  When you check into an Emergency Room, the first thing they do is call Medical Records for (all) your hospital charts.  Within minutes the chart(s) are in the ER and the physician now knows that the patient has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

The ER physician does a standard workup for this woman’s leg pain, including x-rays, then states that there is nothing wrong with her.  She is unwilling to shut up and go home, so the ER physician calls a psychiatric consultation.  The psychiatrist doesn’t see any presenting psychiatric complaint, nevertheless, he would like to be helpful so he proposes to the patient that he will admit her to inpatient psychiatry, where he can order follow-up evaluation of her leg problem.  She agrees, is admitted, and evaluated by a medical physician who says there’s nothing wrong with her leg, so the psychiatrist calls for a consultation with an orthopedic specialist, who also says there’s nothing wrong with her.  The workup has included an MRI.

The psychiatrist now sits down with the patient and explains to her the problem they face:  she has no diagnosable psychiatric problem, and no diagnosable leg problem.  The psychiatrist is answerable to a whole host of people, particularly including Medicare, which is paying the bill, and he has no grounds to justify them paying to keep her in the hospital.  She is discharged in continuing pain and abject despair, neither of which is alleviated by being at home.  The neurochemical pathways for pain and depression are essentially the same, which is why chronic pain is frequently accompanied by depression.  The patient tries to kill herself.

She is returned to inpatient psychiatry where the psychiatrist now has just cause to keep her hospitalized.  And she still has pain in her leg.  The psychiatrist is standing in the nursing station scratching his head and wondering aloud what to do.  A nurse proposes that he order another x-ray of the patient’s leg—after all, it’s not that expensive, and what have you got to lose?  So the psychiatrist orders another x-ray.

The results reveal that the patient has a broken leg.

Case Three:  The patient has acquired a rare kidney disease as a result of a psychiatrist failing to properly monitor a psychiatric medication.  The offending psychiatrist has been terminated and the disease has been properly diagnosed and is being treated by a nephrologist.  The disease comes in three forms:  neurogenic, nephrogenic and psychogenic, i.e., caused by brain damage, caused by kidney damage, or caused by the patient being crazy.  The patient goes into a research program at the local teaching hospital where a world-class endocrinologist does extreme testing and ascertains that her disease is entirely generated by kidney damage.

            At some later time, the patient is admitted to inpatient psychiatry at the teaching hospital.  Because her kidney doctor does not have attending privileges, one of the hospital’s nephrologists is called in to follow the patient.

            Based on an interview, without doing any testing, he diagnoses her illness as psychogenic and refuses treatment.

The greatest danger to a person diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder is that she will die because a physician cannot see past his own prejudice and emotional fears enough to make a correct medical diagnosis.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in depression, doctor, drugs, Inpatient psychiatry, patient, physician, psychiatric patient, psychiatrist, St. Joseph's Hospital, Suicide, Upstate Medical Center and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cause of Death: Physician Prejudice

  1. jim says:

    did you ever come to think you might also be a little bit narcissitic and self aggrandizing maybe you are a liar

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