Docs, Glocks & Rocket Jocks

(from teachwithmoviesorg)

(from teachwithmoviesorg)

As a radiologist, being the butt of jokes in the doctor’s lounge about light sensitivity and the risk of developing decubitus ulcers is par for the course. The “banker’s hours” jokes have fallen off since the advent of 24-hour radiology service, but as for the rest, I’ve found it’s best just to smile and nod.

Jokes aside, I spend half my time doing image-guided procedures, and over the past 20 years sticking needles and other devices into people, I’ve come to realize that there’s no substitute for having the right tools for the job.

Some of my partners use different devices and tricks, and even different forms of imaging guidance for the same procedures—the “right way” is whatever works best for each of us. I discuss techniques and choice of equipment with my partners because I value their knowledge and experience, and want to do everything I can to insure optimal procedural outcomes.

In addition to proper materials, adequate pre-procedure preparation is also critical. Not just the knowledge and experience to perform the procedure, but this also includes reviewing relevant prior imaging, patient history, and lab results. I refer to this as “Preparing to succeed”.

As I get older and more experienced, my ability to make up for inadequate equipment and preparation increases but my inflexible insistence on it grows even more. There are times when you can get away with sub-optimal tools and preparation, but that’s a disservice to patients. The first time a decision like that compromises patient care, you will learn a lesson that is difficult to forget. As they say, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. One of the main reasons why doctors cut corners is because of financial strains. One way to avoid being in this position is to make careful decisions when first setting up your practice, for example, choosing from low down payment mortgages which frees up a little more cash. Luckily, there are Business Energy companies similar to Utility Bidder which may be useful to owners of medical practices that are looking to save money on the utilities for their medical practice.

When it comes to defensive firearms, what are the proper tools for the job? Well, as with image-guided procedures, that depends on what the job is and who’s doing it. My wife loves her S&W 686SSR revolver, but I generally prefer a semi-auto pistol. I like having my Glock 21sf in the nightstand, but for concealed carry I usually prefer a 1911, or my Sig 938. While riding my motorcycle, a revolver makes the most sense to me.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I know a fair amount about firearms and a great deal about the weapons I own and use. Caliber, capacity, ammunition, sights and optics, aftermarket triggers or attached lights and lasers, holsters, and of course safe storage—I’ve carefully selected them all for specific reasons. I take classes and practice, read and research, all so that I can make informed decisions, and own, carry, and use weapons safely and effectively. I do everything I can to “prepare to succeed”.

Whether in my medical practice or handling firearms, I never seek advice from people who have no relevant knowledge, training or experience. I would never allow them to dictate to me when it comes to critical decisions whose outcomes I (and my patients) will have to live with.

I have a friend who’s an amazing chef—really world class, no exaggeration. But I’ve never once asked him for advice about performing percutaneous ethanol ablations for recurrent thyroid cancer. And he’s never asked me for advice about cooking. I’ve watched cooking shows and eaten food and he’s seen medical shows on TV and undergone medical treatment from time to time. But that doesn’t give either of us any meaningful understanding of the other’s profession.

It is no less ridiculous for opponents of the Second Amendment who have no knowledge, training or experience with firearms to decide what types of weapons or ammunition are acceptable, the proper capacity for magazines, or appropriate restrictions on sales and ownership of weapons. Worse still, uninformed—and perhaps intentionally deceitful—legislators go further, scheming to infringe on Americans’ natural right to self defense and Constitutionally enshrined right to keep and bear arms.

As evidenced by stunningly foolish pronouncements about “ghost guns”, “the shoulder thing that goes up”, and “machine guns that can be purchased at gun shows with zero background checks”, most of our legislators are about as knowledgeable about firearms and current regulations as they are about the Large Hadron Collider. (They’re no better informed regarding just about everything we allow them to regulate and tax, but that’s a story for another day.)

Regarding firearms, the same is true of many physicians. Half or fewer own firearms, so there is no reason to expect physicians to know any more about guns than the average American. It’s bad enough that the world’s best gun salesman (President Obama) through the “Affordable” Care Act has attempted to coerce doctors into discussing gun ownership with patients. Worse, prominent physician organizations have leaped upon that bandwagon, promoting anti-gun advocacy without even recommending education and training for member physicians.

Due to their lack of knowledge and expertise statements from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the American College of Surgeons regarding the right to keep and bear arms are no more worthwhile—and should be no more newsworthy—than advice they might offer regarding interstellar travel, global climate trends, or the nature of dark matter.

Physicians should be held to a higher standard than talk show hosts and hoplophobic legislators. We are trained in the scientific method. We are supposed to use logic, and evidence-based decision making. Few of us render medical treatment or offer advice outside our specialty, and it is embarrassing when physicians attempt to render non-medical advice regarding guns. That also constitutes a political and professional boundary violation.

So before signing on to the latest anti-Second Amendment screed from statist politicians or professional societies serving as useful idiots, educate yourself. This is important whether or not you share my belief in the necessity of a robust Second Amendment as a bulwark against violent crime and tyranny. If you decide to weigh in on Americans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms, make sure yours is an informed opinion. That requires education, knowledge and experience. Make sure you’ve got the right stuff.

—Tom Vaughan, MD, is a neuroradiologist in private practice in Louisville, KY. He is a shooting enthusiast who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility.

All DRGO articles by Tom Vaughan, MD.