In response to my June 10th column, one commentor wrote: "The doctor may or may not be in expert in his or her field...."
Does a Healthy Survivor ever go to a doctor who is not an expert in his or her field?
In general, the answer is no.
But let's say you live in a rural area that has only one oncologist who may not be completely up-to-date on his/her rapidly changing field. Or let's say your local physicians are experts in their fields, but not in the particular subset of disease you have. In all these cases, patients sometimes seem to know more than their physicians about their particular disease.
Healthy Survivors in these situations often consult a super-specialist who makes recommendations to their local physicians and then follows along from a distance.
For example, a local oncologist who is not a specialist in a patient's particular type of cancer, but is an expert in the care of oncology patients, can provide the cancer therapies and day-to-day care of the patient very well. If complications arise or reassessments are needed (e.g., after completion of treatment or development of recurrent disease), the patient and local oncologist can involve the consulting super-specialist again.
Another commentor offered a superb adage on my June 14th post when she wrote, "I like Dr. Bernard Lown's approach: the doctor is the expert on the treatment and the patient is the expert on the patient." More on this in my next post.