AF ablation Doctoring Reflection

Friday Reflection: What if ‘they’ start winning?

The chart reads, “here for 6-month AF ablation follow-up.”

My eyes track first to the palpitations box. None.

Then the ECG. Regular.

Good. That’s a relief. Sweet!

Knowing he was free of symptoms and in regular rhythm, I bounced into the room.

“How are you?”

He looked well. Observe. Always observing, us doctors.

I just got my final bill for the ablation.

Uh-oh. Pause. “Think, John.” Come up with something about how healthcare doesn’t have to be so expensive. Or capitalism incents innovation. Or, the same procedure costs ten-fold less in Germany. But all I could think to say was:


“Don’t be sorry, it seems like a lot but pales in comparison to the money it cost to care for my AF before the procedure. Thank you.”

More relief.

We ended up chatting about cost-effectiveness. That’s because when an AF patient no longer has AF there isn’t much else to discuss.


I tweeted today that electrophysiologists are lucky to have procedures that change peoples’ lives for the better. Our (evidenced-based) tech-heavy devices combined with training and some skills really do work. For people.

And though I wished I didn’t feel this way, (I never used to), it’s gratifying when these hard-won successful outcomes beat down the negativism of the take-the-fun-out-of-medicine people. Though they try to extract our joy, with their forms, and clicks, and ‘pre-certs’ and mostly their distrust, for now, our worthwhile work, which makes a difference in the lives of those we serve, wins out.

Thank goodness.

Imagine if it didn’t.


2 replies on “Friday Reflection: What if ‘they’ start winning?”

Seven weeks after my third ablation, I’m aiming, for my EP and myself, to be one of those hard-won successful outcomes. At Thanksgiving, I raised a glass to toast my EP by name and often think fondly of him while cycling in sweet NSR.

@campykid We must be leading parallel lives. I too am 7 weeks out from my third ablation. I remain cautiously optimistic that this will be the last one. My EP says that we have reached the point of diminishing returns so he would be reluctant to recommend another ablation.

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