The Herald Bulletin

October 15, 2013

Doctor says listening is key to diagnosing patients

Dermatologist here 40 years, Martin has no plans to retire

By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — At age 74, Dr. David Martin said he tends to get one question asked frequently – when is he going to retire?

His answer: never.

“I am going to work here until I die,” he said. “I don’t plan to retire. As long as I’m able to do it, I’m going to be here doing it.”

This month marks 40 years of practicing medicine in Anderson for Martin, who is an independent dermatologist.

Martin said he does not know if he still has any patients who have been with him since opening his practice in 1973, but he does know of patients who have been with him for more than 35 years.

“My patients are my friends,” he said.

Treating patients who he considers as his friends has made it easier for Martin to do what he said is the most important thing he has learned in his practice.

“I’ve learned you need to listen to people,” he said. “If you listen to them, they are going to tell you what you need to know, and don’t be surprised by what you find, you might find anything. If you listen, they are going to tell you what is wrong.”

Martin said it can be easy for a doctor to get in a hurry and only listen to one or two things a patient may have to share, see signs of a condition, and then move on. He said taking the time to listen to his patients helps him to make a better diagnosis when treating a medical condition.

During his career, Martin said he has treated one case of orf – an infection of the skin a person can get from sheep – and complex cases of mycosis fungoides. He said mycosis fungoides, a type of skin lymphoma that can be fatal, is difficult to treat and difficult to cure.

When he first opened his practice, Martin said, he would see one or two cases of melanoma a year, but today he sees one or two a month. He said melanoma is dangerous because it spreads.

“People are exposing themselves to ultraviolet radiation that is unnecessary,” he said. “It used to be that it was 95 percent uncurable, not it is 95 percent curable.”

He treats a wide variety of medical conditions including acne, psoriasis, skin cancers and warts. Dermatologists are now offering more and more cosmetic services and while Martin said he does provide those treatments, he enjoys diagnosing conditions.

Looking back, Martin said he knew he would be a doctor one day — he just never planned to be a dermatologist.

“I have no emergencies or very few emergencies, anyway,” he said. “The diagnosis is right in front of you and you don’t have patients die. It can happen, but it does not happen often.”

Originally from Pendleton, Martin said he was in residence and training in Cincinnati when he learned about a dermatology opening in Anderson during a phone conversation with his sister, who was working as a teacher in his hometown.

“I started coming up one day a week and then two days and it just grew into what it is today,” Martin said.

Martin now lives four miles from where he grew up and six miles from his practice at 2101 Jackson St.

The idea of moving somewhere more exotic was never a consideration for Martin who admits he is just a Midwest boy at heart. He also said if he could do it again, he would not change a thing.

“There are probably a few things I could do better,” he said. “I’m sure we all could.”

 

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250

 

Speak up A 2010 survey of 800 patients and 500 doctors shows that both patients and doctors feel communication can make a difference on "whether a patient lives or dies." The survey, conducted by Marttila Strategies for the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, showed 71 percent of the doctors surveyed and 81 percent of the patients say communication played a vital role in their health care. The same study, however, showed that only 37 percent of the doctors surveyed believe good communication and emotional support were improving, while 51 percent of the patients in the study felt communications and emotional support were improving. Source: http://marttilastrategies.com