How Can I Tell if the Doctor Botched My Dad's Surgery?

My father has colon cancer. He's received three surgical resections and the cancer has spread to his stomach, lungs, and liver. The surgeon cut it out of his stomach, but my dad suffers from severe nausea. He's underweight, malnourished, and can't keep fluids or food down, even with the help of his medicine. Is this normal or did the doctor botch my dad's surgery?

I'm not a medical professional and have no way to determine if the doctor botched your dad's surgery.

However, I have a couple of suggestions.

Get a Second Opinion

Has your dad gotten a second opinion from another physician? If I had the concerns you do, I think I'd get someone else to evaluate my dad's case to find out if he's been receiving the best treatment. He's entitled to a copy of his medical records, including copies of all CT scans, X-rays, and surgical reports (though he might have to pay for the copies).

You could take these to another gastroenterologist for a consultation and ask the new doc if she'd recommend the same or a different course of treatment. You may get confirmation that your dad's current doc is doing the right thing, or you may discover some new options.

Check the Doctor's History

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) offers a service that may be of use to you. Via its DocInfo website, you can receive a report that includes information on disciplinary sanctions, education, licensure history, and previous work locations for any physician licensed in the U.S. It costs $10.

You can also contact your state's medical board for more info on a particular physician or to file a complaint (should you decide one is warranted). The FSMB maintains a directory.

Bottom Line

When a parent is diagnosed with colon cancer, it can be difficult to determine where you fit into the picture - how you can help without overstepping.

Doing the legwork to ensure your father receives the optimal care is one of the most loving things you can do for him. Stay strong and please let me know how it goes.


  1. Directory of State Medical Boards. Federation of State Medical Boards. 15 Jan 2007 [].
  2. DocInfo. Federation of State Medical Boards. 15 Jan 2007 [].

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