Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Poking Fun

So there aren't too many laughs here at the cancer hospital, as one might imagine.
Not that we don't have a good time, but it is sometimes a sad and mostly dull place to work. I do like my job, sure, and I think the work that I am doing is good and very useful, but it's not exactly a barrel of laughs, you know?!

Every once in a while, one of the physicians I work with does something so stupid I laugh about it all day. Thank GOD no one's life is at stake in the research field, unless you talk about death by stupidity, LOL.

We started a study about four months ago looking at the survival rate of patients with a certain type of disease receiving a certain type of treatment. We went back and forth between our country-wide team of physicians trying to figure out exactly WHAT types of chemo we'd be looking at and what course of treatment. We narrowed it down to patients getting A1, B2, and A1 plus transplant. B2 plus transplant is another option, but usually these patients had had a lot of chemo before transplant, had issues, did not receive treatment in a certain amount of time, etc. SO basically B2 plus transplant did not put patients on an equal playing field with A1 alone, B2 alone, and A1 plus transplant, so we took it off the board completely. We had a few phone calls about this, submitted a proposal that was approved by all our colleagues, and then submitted to a big hematological conference. The paper, to our delight, was accepted as a talk. Woohoo!

With that success under our belts we got down to the gritty details of the project. Even though the talk is officially based on an abstract and not a paper, we wanted to cover all the bases, which not only made us look good but also made publication an easier and more likely process. The doc who is my direct boss is a perfectionist and has worked tirelessly to make everything just so. We discussed the talk on our HUGE conference call two weeks ago. We sent out the presentation last Wednesday for the rest of the doctor's approval. And heard


I sent a reminder last night giving everyone til Wednesday night to respond.
Who should pipe up but a doc from the West Coast who 1. never responds to emails 2. never joins conference calls OR RSVP's for them and 3. allegedly ignores her data collection person to the point where they can't even schedule a meeting together. Not only is her email a grammatical nightmare (not that I can talk b/c you've seen this blog, but at least I'm not sending professional emails here!) but she writes "On slide 3 you should really have B2 plus transplant because that what a lot of people get here"

I want to hit reply and say "Dear Dr. X. Thanks for your keen observations. It is quite obvious that you have looked at all of the slides. If you had been as observant the past four months as this study moved through the various phases of approval and discussion, you would be aware that we dropped this specific group of patients from our study for a number of reasons. The study parameters will not be changing, as the presentation at the annual meeting will be taking place in less than a week."

UGH. While I did have a good laugh over that (though nothing will ever be as funny as the dr. who could not read a bar graph and morning conference) it is equally irritating to have to deal with these people. Some would probably say that this proves that doctors are human too. Of course. We all make mistakes. We all have insecurities. The thing that gets me is that this doc, much like the bar graph lady, made a huuuuge deal about the "mistake" and "omittance" they "discovered" and even after letting them down easy, they continued to make a fuss. They seem to have no sense of self-preservation, no instinct to save themselves from embarrassment. This woman's name is on our paper...what if someone had asked her a question about it? That would make the whole lot of us look bad!

I think I'll let the doc I work for handle this one. I think today I might just sit back, relax, and bear witness to what I know will be a very interesting conversation.

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