A tremendous loss | AspenTimes.com

A tremendous loss

Dear Editor:

I was saddened to read Su Lum’s column describing the loss of her friend and co-worker at The Aspen Times, Christine (“Mourning at the newspaper,” Sept. 26). Besides feeling sorrow for the passing of such a young, vibrant woman, I was disturbed to read that her initial treatment was provided by someone who seemed unable or unwilling to recognize that she was very ill, not responding to treatment, and in need of other forms of care.

Alternative/complementary medicine can be very effective when practiced by a well-trained provider. However, in order to best serve patients, all health-care providers ” alternative and allopathic ” must recognize when a case is beyond the scope of their training or expertise, and know when it is time to refer the patient to someone who can address their needs. Although I do not know the details of the case and cannot speak for the veracity of Su Lum’s column, the story suggests that this transfer did not happen in Christine’s care.

Any person who takes on the awesome responsibility for providing for another’s health must follow the maxim “do no harm.” (This holds true regardless of whether the health practitioner has actually taken the Hippocratic Oath or not.) Not recognizing one’s own limitations in training and expertise can, and often does, cause harm. Christine’s story is a painful reminder to all of us in health care of the dire consequences of not recognizing our own shortfalls.

Dr. Scott Tesoro