A letter to my first doctor

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tenley, one of my dearest friends from college, suggested that I included emails and letters from doctors just in case I decided that I would like to turn this blog into my own little book one day:-) I thought it was a great idea so I have included something I have wanted to do for a LONG time! This may sound crazy, but the first doctor I had the first time I ever had pancreatitis blamed me. He said it was because I drank alcohol the night before! Crazy, as all of you would have this disease if that was the case...and some more than others ha ha, Theta what??! Anyways, I decided after getting my genetic tests back that I would write him a letter. I am not sure if he will read it, or continue reading it, as it is rather harsh. I honestly feel a little bit guilty for being so rude to him in the letter, but if you had been in my shoes in that hospital the first time I will promise that you would understand why I feel this way. Anyways, I wrote him a letter telling him to remove some things from my medical records. I sound like a little lawyer in this, which is funny because that was always something I thought I would do. Maybe one day...for now I will get better. Enjoy my little piece of revenge. 

Dr. Warm,
I was a patient of yours at Sharp Coronado Hospital. I was two weeks into my twenty second year of life when my stomach hurt beyond belief and I was sure I was dying! After being admitted to your hospital, you were assigned to be my doctor. After discussing that fact that I had lipase over 5,000 and pain that was horrific, you determined that I had acute pancreatitis. I told you that the night before I had drank 3 cranberry and vodka drinks. You said this caused my pancreatitis. I specifically remember telling you that, “I only had three drinks” and your response was “That is excessive”. I quote you verbatim as I will never forget those words. My mom was in the room when you said that and she was blown away. We asked for you to be removed as my doctor and in turn you put yet another doctor from your same staff on my case. You refused to listen to the GI specialist that was called in to help on my case (he even told us you two had a difference of opinion).
Since seeing you I have had many more attacks of pancreatitis (somewhere around 30) and my doctors have never accused me of being an alcoholic. I do not drink any alcohol because it is not good for my condition. My parents got me out of Sharp and I was immediately admitted to Scripps in La Jolla where I received better treatment and the doctors there knew better than to blame three cocktails on a serious medical condition in a 22 year old female with no history of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, my time in your care was documented in my medical records. In these records it states that I am a colllege student with episodic binge drinking and it also says that the cause of my conditions is: ALCOHOL! I am asking you to remove any part of the record that blames or mentions alcohol consumption. I want to be a functioning adult who is able to get life insurance and my own health insurance one day and I do not want your mistakes and lack of expertise to compromise this.
In the future I would hope that you would stay inside your realm of expertise. I am not trying to be hurtful, I am trying to save patients from ever feeling as awful as I did about the treatment they received. You are not a GI doctor. You are not a pancreatic specialist. It should have sent off a red flag in your head that you had a patient, whom was only 22 years old, with this severe case of pancreatitis. That is not normal under any doctors judgement. Had you listened to the specialist on the case and had you put aside your ego you would have understood this and you would have much better served me, your patient, which is hopefully why you went to medical school. 
I have faxed my genetic testing to show you that I carry all three of the genes associated with chronic pancreatitis. The most prominent gene is the PRSS1 gene, which is what causes me to suffer from hereditary pancreatitis. This means, Dr. Warm, that nothing I ate or drank caused me to have pancreatitis that day in your hospital. It means that I was born this way and I cannot help that this happened. I also sent you an article titled “Pathophysiology of Chronic Pancreatitis” that was written by those who are actually specialists and those who research this field. We could call them experts. I would like you to pay specific attention to pages 1318 and 1320. On 1318 it mentions, “Pancreatitis almost NEVER occurs in persons who consume alcohol for less than 5 years.” As you know I was 2 weeks outside of being 21. I had been socially drinking for approximately 2 years. Right away, you should have considered this and it should have raised a red flag. The second page, page 1320, mentions that patients under 25 should have genetic testing. The point of me pointing out these pages is that age should have alarmed you. You should have been concerned that I was only 22 years old and you should have known better than to blame my three drinks the night before!
I am now finished saying the things I only wished I had known the day I was with you at Sharp Coronado Hospital. I am harsh, as you can see, because you hurt me badly that day. You offended me and you made me think I caused myself such a terrible and life wrecking disease. This disease has taken away three years of my life and I have suffered greatly. I am now in the care of wonderful GI doctors and expert surgeons who are offering me hope for the future. I am now a self educated expert on the pancreas. I have researched every scientific journal article and have spoken to the best doctors who specialize in the pancreas that this country has to offer. I only wish that you had taken the time to listen to experts when I was your patient. My final request, please remove any mention alcohol from my medical records or I will seek legal action.
Thank You,
Whitney Yates


  1. This is amazing! He better read and respond to this...I'd probably send through various outlets: snail mail, email, fax. Haha. But in all seriousness, he needs to see it and apologize. We are all human and he has an opportunity now to own up to his mistakes, apologize and better himself as a doctor. My hope is that he'll respond kindly so you can forgive and release your resentment for his arrogance and unprofessional behavior! Good for you whit!

  2. Thanks so much Tenley! I wrote this today while I was thinking about all those things he said. I told my mom I felt a little bad after and she said don't. Then she remined me of more things he said and I remembered again why I did it:-) I am happy I did! And I am also thankful you gave me the idea to include emails and letters! Smarty! XO


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