News - February 7, 2013

Don't ask me, I'm a (Dutch) doctor


Having lived in the Netherlands for six years I have gone through my fair share of visits to Dutch doctors.

One of the first visits was about a problem which brought me one too many headaches. My GP sent me to several specialists for consultations. After several months of meetings and negative tests I found myself sitting in front of a dermatologist. She had done a test on her first guess at the problem, which came out negative. When I arrived to pick up the results she casually said, 'I don't know what's wrong.' Silence. I asked if it could be an allergy. She praised my analytical skills, saying I might be right and sent me off to do the tests. That was somewhat confusing for me - I grew up with the notion that it is the doctor who knows best. Yet now I ended up diagnosing myself.
In another consultation I came prepared with a diagnosis. That took me some time, doing the reading beforehand. The doctor wasn't getting very far so I offered my suggestion. He said I might be right and checked it on Google, just in case. He concluded that I was indeed on the right track and I could do the test.
I told a Dutch friend of mine about this, expecting to see her shocked. Yet she regarded it as appropriate that the doctors were listening to me as a patient. Had I known about the listening skills of the Dutch doctors, I would have known about my allergy a bit quicker than after six months...  However, one question still remains: What if I were unconscious? 
Latina Percheva, Bulgarian MSc student of Environmental Sciences
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