Second Opinion

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A Routine Case of Asthma In Second Opinions, by Dr. Jerome Groopman, you will find eight moving clinical histories illustrating how important it is to evaluate--and occasionally one's medical options, emphasizing the merit of second opinions and the patient's intuitive responses to care. Clearly, Groopman doesn't always have answers. But he writes honestly of patients he has helped where there were no clear solutions. He was forced to follow--in partnership with his patients--his educated intuition. The intuition compliments good medicine comes from careful listening, communication, trust, and time. Unfortunately, managed care is time's greatest enemy.

In the chapter entitled "A Routine Case of Asthma," a 36-year-old patient named Isabella Montero was diagnosed with asthma and received a prescription for a Ventolin inhaler. Despite her continued shortness of breath, loss of vision in one eye, and weakness in her arm and hand, no blood tests, chest x-rays, or cultures of phlegm were conducted because her doctor claimed that it was outside the clinical algorithm.

But they discovered later that instead of a routine case of asthma, Montero actually had acute leukemia, which ultimately killed her.

I can relate to the story of Isabella Montero in a beneficial sense. When I was younger, I suffered from a somewhat mild case of asthma. Wheezing was the main affect I experienced. My condition was diagnosed and cared for by Dr. William Berger. Through his exact diagnosis, and caring treatment, I eventually overcame my condition. With my interest in Groopman's book, particularly concerning the chapter "A Routine Case of Asthma", I was moved to compare my situation with that of Montero's. I decided to contact Dr. Berger to help me expand on this issue. I feel it would be useful to first demonstrate the respect Dr. Berger deserves in his field of practice.