Is a fear of the doctor or vet irrational?
Just a few days ago, I heard the news about two parents, David and Collet Stephan, who were found guilty of not providing the necessaries of life in the death of their 19-month-old son Ezekiel.
What happened is they tried to treat what they thought was croup and later the flu with home remedies, instead of taking Ezekiel to the hospital. Out of concern for their son they called a friend who is a registered nurse and asked her about his condition, who said he could have viral meningitis. The boy's mother looked up viral meningitis on the Internet and administered two physical tests, which showed positive for meningitis. She then called a naturopath and asked for remedies to help with viral meningitis.
Sadly, Ezekiel passed away from bacterial meningitis, leaving his parents devastated and facing a court trial.
The opinions about this case appear to be very polarized. Some people think it was irresponsible and others felt this situation was a result of an error in judgment. Some experts said during the trial that there was an element of irrationality not to bring Ezekiel to the hospital, but was there?
This tragic news made me think about if there were rational reasons why the parents didn't take Ezekiel to the hospital. I have seen similar situations that looked like this in veterinary medicine.
I also often heard from new clients who sought me out because they were afraid of going to conventional veterinary clinics. They were worried about drug side-effects and that they would be forced into treatments that they disagreed with and something would go wrong.
Is this a reasonable concern?
Based on the statistics from human medicine the answer is yes. The first two causes of death in the U.S. are cardiac disease and cancer and the third cause is hospital/doctor error.
As far as I know, similar statistics are not available for veterinary medicine, but it is reasonable to assume that human error is also one of the top causes of death in veterinary medicine too because the human and veterinary conventional medical models are very similar.
In my opinion one of the main reasons why some people decide not to seek medical help is they are afraid.
The current situation is a warning sign that something needs to be done with the conventional medical model because based on the statistics, falling in the hands of the wrong medical practitioner can be fatal.
This letter is not written to discourage you from seeking medical help. It is a reminder that it is essential to keep learning about health, nutrition and disease prevention. Understanding the basic principles of healing will help you recognize better what advice to follow and when to firmly stand your ground.
I strongly believe that orthodox and dogmatic approaches to medicine can cause problems. Doctors who push and combine prescription drugs and adamantly refuse natural holistic healing are more likely to be dangerous than those who are open-minded and willing to integrate safe holistic methods.
As a conventionally trained veterinarian, it took me the first 10 years of practice to realize that there is a place for both conventional and holistic medicine and the best choice is always the one that causes the least harm.
It is tragic to see what happened to Ezekiel but, instead of blaming his parents, I think the biggest problem lies within our medical system. Perhaps it is time to start the discussion about how the medical profession and doctors and regain our trust.
If you are interested in learning about the essential principles of natural healing, or what I call the healing cycle, watch the video here to learn more.
And if you are wondering how to choose the right veterinarian, read the article here.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM