After spending the last month on sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll Doctor D is back to discussing hardcore medical issues:
Sick Momma asks,
"Everyone tells me I should go to Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins. Are the doctors there so much better?"If you travel to Hopkins or Mayo you are basically paying extra for "name brand" medical care.
Is the name brand better than the regular stuff? Sometimes, but often it's just more costly for the exact same thing. The docs in those places have all published a lot of studies or are recognized names in their field.
"I am the chairman of Medical Expertology at Ivory Tower University, and I am never wrong about anything."
The Academic BrandDoctor D's time in the ivory tower of medical training revealed to him that the biggest brains in medicine aren't always the best at caring for patients.
Some super-experts will be good at the bedside, but quite a few of them suck at actual doctoring.Occasionally the super sub-sub specialist expert will know something useful to you that your regular working doc didn't know, but this is more rare than you think. Academic abstraction can also prove a distraction from the simple problem-solving that is often needed. If your car isn't acting right a regular mechanic is usually a better choice than the mechanical engineer at a big name university.
The SuperClinicsThe Mayo Clinic is a bit different from academia. They are more hands-on than academic. Superclinics like Mayo pride themselves on being a Mecca for VIP patients.
From anecdotal stories from patients I know who went to Mayo my impression is that they do a lot more tests than most doctors. More tests can be a double edged sword. If you've been reading AskAnMD you know that more care isn't always better. Doctor D has a relative who had a very bad outcome at Mayo after what sounds to have been excessive, unnecessary testing.
In the end, big brand name hospitals and clinics will often do the same tests or treatments your local doctor would do, but the diagnosis or cure is considered more "brilliant" or "amazing" just because it happened Mayo or Hopkins.
Generally speaking I would advise people to work with local resources first.
A lot of people go thousands of miles to get the exact same care they could have gotten down the street.
Only if you are told by the you local docs that you are beyond their abilities would I suggest you look into the big names. Often the primary doctors and specialists in your own area are more convenient and just as good for your needs.
What do you think? Do any readers have first-hand stories from the "Ivory Towers" of medicine? Did you go for a rare disease or a common problem?
Do you think that the care there was superior to the care you could have gotten in your own city?