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Psoriasis vs. Cirrhosis
from Albert S.

Dear Ed:  I was taking a pre-surgical physical and when the interviewer who was filling out the form asked, “Do you have diseases?” I answered, “Yes, I have psoriasis.”  I completed the physical and when I finally arrived in the operating room, the anesthesiologist said he would not allow the operation to proceed. I asked why. He said, “Because you have cirrhosis of the liver.” I was shocked until I realized what had happened. I looked at him and very calmly said, “I have psoriasis, not cirrhosis.” And he responded, “They checked the wrong box.”  -Albert S.

*****

Ed’s Response:  That’s funny in retrospect, Albert.  The not-so-funny thing about it is I think it happens more than we think.  I’ve had the same problem with medical personnel becoming confused between the conditions, though it hasn’t been a near show-stopper like your experience.

I’ve heard from several people who have confronted the confusion in casual conversation (click here for an example).  The interesting thing is that both diseases have stigma attached to them – sometimes for equally invalid reasons.  People who don’t understand P often think it is a contagious condition (like leprosy) or a sign of bad hygiene, or worse.  Cirrhosis of the liver is commonly thought of as “the alcoholic’s disease,” though one doesn’t have to be an alcoholic to have it.

I trust once you cleared the confusion your operation went well?  -Ed

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