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The By Gosh and By Gum Club

When I trained retrievers professionally, I used to get a steady stream of business from members of the By Gosh and By Gum Club, whose club motto went something like, “By gosh, it seemed like a good ideer, so by gum, that’s the way I done it.”

They were the guys who thought the way to introduce their Lab pup to gunfire was to take him out to the gun range and tie him to the truck bumper while everyone shot, or throw their pups in the lake to teach them to swim.

God bless those guys, because I made a fair bit of money teaching their traumatized pups not to fear gunfire or water.

It was pretty rough on the poor dogs, though. And sometimes, the damage was too great to repair.

In those cases, a few of the club members dropped their memberships and looked for better ways to do things, but many just blamed the failure on their dogs or the trainer they hired to clean up their mess, and went on to traumatize other dogs and plague other pro trainers.

It occurs to me that the By Gosh and By Gum Club has chapters in every EMS system in the country.

By gosh, that’s what was in the textbook, so by gum it must be right.”

What they never realize is that a whole bunch of that textbook was written by an earlier generation of the By Gosh and By Gum Club.

“By gosh, it stands to figger that a feller with a broke neck ought not to move it, so by gum we’ll strap ‘em to a board to make shore that don’t happen.”

Some of them learn better and drop their club membership, but others will continue to do things the same way the rest of their careers, ignoring every piece of evidence that shows theirs was the wrong way.

Still just as rough on the patients as it was on the dogs, though.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Brandon Oto

    Sometimes it feels like a lot of the rationale behind medicine is handled by the “dibs” method. You know, the first person to have a clever idea gets dibs, as long as it makes some vague slice of sense. (“Hey, you know, I bet if we hang those hypothermic patients over the stove for an hour, they’ll turn golden brown and delicious.”) Then we all start doing it, because why not, and if anybody else has a different idea, tough noogies — that guy has dibs, and dibs is the standard of care, so you’ll need evidence to change it, and you’re not going to get that when that guy’s had dibs so long his ass has left a dent in the seat.

  • Ernest Sharp

    There is a reason for this. Lawyers refer to it as “accepted practice.” Once a medical procedure becomes accepted practice, lawyers will sue you if a patient dies while in your care, and you weren’t following accepted practice.
    Your post on spinal immobilization is a good example of that. It is possibly harmful to backboard patients in many cases, but we do it because we have always done it that way, it has become accepted practice. Fail to do it, and any patient who has a spinal injury is going to sue you and claim his condition was made worse because you didn’t follow accepted practice.
    The law has nothing to do with right or wrong. The law is a game with an odd set of rules, and the only people who win are the lawyers.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      I get that, Ernie, I really do.

      But if we accepted your argument we’d still be using rotating tourniquets and giving lidocaine prophylactically to MI patients.

    • Rogue Medic

      This is why we need to get rid of the organizations that continue to advocate for this kind of nonsense.

      PHTLS and NAEMSP recently endorsed a position paper supporting “spinal immobilization.”

      These are the experts, who are supposed to be protecting patients from fraud, but they are defending the fraud.

      We need to ridicule their incompetence.

      We need to ridicule their gullibility.