Do I have a bad doctor if they say they don’t know what’s wrong with me?

I have dedicated most of my life to the study of science, medicine, patient care, and specifically ophthalmology. I have spent more than fifteen years now, practicing clinical ophthalmology, treating patients medically or surgically for various eye conditions. That said, I am periodically humbled by ocular conditions which I am simply not certain how to manage. In these situations, I don’t hesitate to tell my patients that I don’t have the answer; but that’s not the only thing I tell them. I always leave our encounter with a definitive plan, which may be one of the following:

  1. Let’s try plan A and have you come back to see the result before considering plan B
  2. I will do some research which may include reaching out to some colleagues for advice, and then contact you with a plan of care
  3. I will refer you to one or more colleagues who may have greater experience in your particular condition

I have found that most patients feel as I do; they respect a professional who is willing to admit uncertainty and ask a question rather than proceed blindly forward out of pride. So the next time your doctor says they are not sure what is wrong, see what they say afterwards. What is their plan of action on your behalf? They may be a better doctor thank you think…

David Paikal, MD

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