Getting proper warnings from NSW doctors

You would think that it would be routine for NSW doctors to properly warn their patients, in writing, of any possible side effects and consequences of any treatments they were advocating, and,¬†for the doctors’ own protection, to get the patients to put in writing that this had happened. And that any patients who hadn’t been so warned had a very sound basis to complain, and that Commissioner Sue Dawson and her people at the Health Care Complaints commission would agree.

But one of our readers claims that a Dr Andrew J Brooks, Urologist, didn’t warn him of a consequence of treatment he, the doctor, was advocating, which wasn’t just “a possible consequence,” it always happened, and which couldn’t have been more serious – he would be deprived of the considerable pleasure males enjoy when their semen is ejected through their penises during sexual intercourse, his semen would just go up into his bladder without any feeling, and that he couldn’t have any more children, and that this was a life long thing, how it would be for the rest of his life, it couldn’t be reversed.

And that when he lodged a complaint about this with¬†Commissioner Sue Dawson and her people at the Health Care Complaints Commission, he was told that he had no basis to complain, of course. As usual, they’ve been completely and utterly useless.

The irony is that Brooks didn’t even claim that he’d warned our patient of this specific consequence. In a letter Brooks wrote to the HCCC, in relation to this matter, he said, and we quote, “I would usually discuss the alterations to sexual function and the loss of ejaculation.” In other words, that he “usually” discussed it – not that he’d discussed it, in particular, with our reader. And he certainly didn’t have it in writing from our reader that he’d warned him in any way. In dismissing our reader’s complaint, Ms Dawson and her people have relied on various vague claims by Brooks that he had explained to our reader the risks and complications, and to the fact that, quite incredibly, and we quote, “We have not identified a deficiency in the clinical care and treatment provided to you by Dr Brooks.”

This, of course, was only one of the main aspects of the treatment Brooks recommended, and carried out – the other was that it didn’t help in any way with the health problem our reader had been referred to Brooks for help with.

So our reader made a complaint to Commissioner Dawson and her people about Dr Brooks, only to be told he had no basis to complain. So he’s made a request for this decision to be reviewed, he’s still waiting for the outcome, and we’ll be absolutely astonished if he gets anything back that changes anything.

Ms Dawson will continue on on $600,000 or more – she was granted a further 5 year term just a few months ago – and she won’t care. And no one in the Berejiklian Government, least of all, Premier Berejiklian herself, will care. And people in the Opposition, like Ryan Park, their Shadow Minister for Health won’t care. And people like Andrew Brooks will continue recommending treatments that return him his $3,200 fees for less than an hour’s work – treatments that don’t help his patients in any way and which cause them life long damage. And, and we’re becoming more and more convinced that this is the real problem – we, the people, don’t care.

What we need to do is this, it’s simple. After we’ve had a face-to-face consultation with a doctor, we should send him or her an email along these lines – “In my face-to-face consultation with you today, I understood you to say blah blah blah, blah blah blah – have I understood this correctly? In particular, are there any possible side effects of any treatments you’ve recommended? I would be most grateful to hear from you.” Most of the time, such emails would only require a “yes” answer. If we don’t get a proper response to such an email, we should keep looking.

We’ve become convinced that doctors, a lot of the time, are not even sure themselves that what they’ve told you is correct – and so avoid putting anything in writing like the plague.

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