Friday, May 6, 2011

X is for X-Ray

Modern medicine is a wondrous thing. Many of the advances in treatments and cures are a result of the advanced imaging available to doctors and diagnosticians. X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, Pet Scans, sonograms...the list goes on. These miracles of modern technology have given the medical community a window to the body never thought possible even in the recent past. Determining the ailment is half the battle. Proper diagnosis leads to proper treatment and medical imaging is a huge part of this process.

As a Paramedic, I am a medical professional, but I don't have access to these instruments in the field. I cannot hook a patient to a scanner in their home and see the culprits of their infirmities. I have to rely on good, old fashioned patient assessment. What are they telling me? What are their symptoms, what does their skin look like, or their eyes or their nail beds? What is their medical history? What is their family's medical history? What happened to them?

I think the Titans of medicine could learn a few things from us lowly Paramedics. Too often, a doctor will read a CAT scan or an MRI and see nothing amiss and dismiss the patient's complaint. These machines are not infallible and patients are suffering because their doctors are treating the machines not the patients. I have been a victim of this as has members of my family. My Father's cancer went undiagnosed until it was too late because the initial scan was negative and his back pain was dismissed as "arthritis".

I am not suggesting that we do away with advanced imaging. They are invaluable tools, but I challenge the medical community to "get back to basics" when addressing a patient's complaint. Look, touch, smell, talk and most importantly, listen to all of your patients. In case you were wondering, the letters in the attached picture stand for…Onset, Provokes, Quality, Radiation, Severity and Time. A simple formula that has stood the test of time.


  1. THANK YOU! I have seen this happen all too many times. Nurses, Respiratory Therapists & other medical personnel have to fight the doctors (especially residents) to not just read the machines, but read the person. Maybe one day they'll listen!

  2. Amen to this one. Too often, we are a sum of our images. I love the image here, perfect.