15 August 2013

A New National Sport – Doctor Bashing

One doctor feels she has a way to stop doctor bashing. I dislike having to tell her that doctors have opened themselves up to this and created their own problems by patient bashing to the point that there is no return. I don't like doctor bashing, but after having been the victim of patient bashing, I don't really care any more.

Yes, it is unfortunate that a profession whose members were once held in high esteem in their community has now become the new national sport called doctor bashing. In this era of new technologies and highly improved communication devices, it is a shame that communications between doctors and between doctors and patients has become so neanderthallistic. Doctors and patients alike, have been trying to blame the system, but I do not believe the system has any part in the bashing.

I think that the rapidly improving communication technologies, cell phones and the internet, are making people realize just how imperfect and human doctors are. This realization is causing the pedestals their own medical profession loves to make them think are built just for them, to come crashing down around them. When statistics show that annually, many thousands of medical errors happen to patients both inside the hospitals and outside in physician practices, we no longer have a need for the pedestals.

Dr. Carla J. Rotering, is right that the training, knowledge, and skills are higher than they were several decades ago when everyone thought well of their doctors. What she overlooks is the explosion of information in the last 15 years and the level of public communications improvements. When we think about television news channels, news programs, cell phones, and the internet social media and internet medical information, it is not surprising that we will no longer accept that doctors are slipping in their education and especially their continuing education to stay current with many of the illnesses and chronic diseases. By not referring complex patients to more knowledgeable doctors in many cases only adds fuel to the doctor bashing.

We as patients see and hear of doctors that are bad doctors, just moving from one state to another state and are back in operation. We even hear of doctors moving from one hospital to another hospital and continuing the same bad medical practices because the hospitals do not perform their due diligence. So is it any surprise that doctor bashing has become the national pastime. This is the only way we are able to apply pressure to rid ourselves of these doctors. I appreciate the TV shows that highlight the abuses of hospitals and physicians that feel they are above the law because they feel that the medical errors they caused are of no consequence to the overall grand scheme of things.

We as patients can no longer rely on state medical boards to do their due diligence when complaints are lodged because of the protection they provide to all doctors. So is it any surprise that television stations and newspapers are provided information so that they can investigate and possibly uncover more than one patient can discover.

The following are some of her suggestions for those that feel healthcare is getting a bad rap:

#1. Have the courage to speak up and promote the positives about our system, hospitals, and providers. This is difficult when we see the greed in our hospital systems and our medical insurance carriers. They are both seeking higher and higher profits by their administrators and CEOs so that they can ask for higher and higher salaries and bonuses. They often dictate the actions of physicians.

#2. Continue to express compassion to friends and family who have suffered disappointments with their healthcare providers without joining the bash. The blameless apology works really well. “I’m so sorry you had such a painful experience.” A great idea, providing it is well placed and rightly justified. Most may well be justified, but be sure that there is nothing more to be concerned about. If this is an isolated case, no problem, but if you are hearing a pattern, proceed with caution.

#3. Promote empathy for the challenges physicians face. Help to educate others about the pressures on physicians in today’s turbulent environment. Also a great idea, provided that the physician is doing their best to stay current and when they are not current, referring patients to doctors that are current instead of doing what many doctors do by thinking they are all that the patient needs and follow bad advice from the organizations they listen to. Example: Diabetes for which doctors have a difficult time staying current and so follow the American Diabetes Association and stack one oral medication on top of another oral medication when the patient might be better served by using insulin.

#4. Thank, appreciate and recognize those physicians who exemplify the Hippocratic Oath and are truly patient-centered in their approach. If the doctor is truly patient centered and doing no harm, then this is the proper thing to do and I support this as well.

#5. Do your part in making your organization a caring community in which everyone, including physicians, feels supported. If everything else is positive, then do your part to be positive and supportive of the physicians.

In many cases, it is possible to be positive. I have recently experienced some of the downsides in physician actions and therefore I am probably over cautious.

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