So, you finally decided to get a medical opinion on your hearing loss and ear problems. The primary physician told you to see an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) doctor. You call the office and get set up with a “specialist.” Easy, right? Or maybe not. Here is why one must be careful when making that all-important ENT appointment.
“All our doctors are good!” Learning the hard way.
After my sudden hearing loss, I had to see the ENT at regular intervals for a while. One time when I called the office, I was told that my doctor would not be available for a few months due to personal issues. “But,” the receptionist said, “all our doctors are good. I can get you in with someone else.” And she did. And I did not question her.
Not his specialty!
After weeks of waiting, I saw the replacement physician. He was not too happy to see me. He did not relate to my sudden hearing loss, tinnitus and sound sensitivity. He commented that he had little to offer and wondered why I was there. My issues were not in his field of expertise. He was the group’s head-and-neck cancer specialist. I should make another appointment with own doctor.
Why did he act annoyed with me? I did not choose him! I did recommended that the office staff should get a training refresher. Such a waste of time and money! I had to start all over. In a way, I blamed myself for trusting the scheduler. I should have known better.
Certainly, all Ear Nose and Throat doctors start with a general education in the field of Otolaryngology. However, as medical students, they opt for an area of special interest. Then they receive specific, robust education and extra training in their chosen field. So, all doctors in a group may be “good”— in their own specialty.
I am not the only one
As I go about doing community and industry safety presentations, people have shared similar experiences. Recently, a lady found out that she had been scheduled to see the ENT Sleep Disorder specialist — although she specifically mentioned her hearing troubles to the scheduler. She learned about this when she googled the doctor online.
And the lesson is…?
In these days of “Health Care by Patient,” we must remain alert, ask questions and never assume. Does a new doctor in a new specialty group have a specific interest and expertise in our specific issue? It is not enough to rely on someone else to make the right decision for us. So, even when it comes to something as basic as making an ENT appointment, we do well to follow President Ronald Regan’s advice who recommended that we “Trust but Verify.”
To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way.