29 August 2013

The Practice of Medicine Must Change

This blog combines two other blogs of interest to me and helps explain why the practice of medicine must change. No, I am not talking about our broken medical system, but the participants in it and how they can make the change happen. Or at least this is my intent, but the end will determine if I am convincing.

Science has led to many important medical life-saving advances, but it has also led to harmful and dehumanizing medical care. Physicians and hospitals use wasteful and unnecessary tests and treatments. It is sad that about two out of every three families that declare bankruptcy, do this because of expensive medical bills. What is even more alarming is that over 70 percent had medical insurance.

The first blog is this blog by Dr. Leana Wen and I urge you to read it. Her points are very poignant and at the same time revealing about what needs to be accomplished. She does not say this, but I will, we – you and I, need to take charge of our medical care. Doctors are so harried today, that they do not let you tell your story about what is wrong with you.

I do understand that they interrupt many patients because we have too many drama-minded people that do not just state the facts and then let the doctor take over. Then we have the doctors that rely on the “cookbook method” and could care less about what is truly your problem. So both sides may be part of the problem. Patients, we need to just state the facts, forget the drama, and not let the doctor interrupt us until we have finished with the facts. This just may prevent a misdiagnosis.

The second blog is by Riva Greenberg that I am using. I laughed after reading this, but what she describes is happening more and more. Why? I honestly feel this is happening because doctors have lost their comfortable pedestal they want patients to see them atop of and are having burnout to some degree. Yes, some would call it laziness. I see it as being so harried by the lack of time, that they are not able to do their jobs and so drop the ball in many areas. They order tests and procedures just to move to the next patient. The problem is they may not even know why they ordered a test or procedure.

Clinical inertia is what Riva describes - clinical inertia can put a patient in danger, it is a major contributor to inadequate treatment, and it can lead to unnecessary tests and procedures. Riva is talking about diabetes and when this doctor is asleep at the wheel, you as the patient must take charge. Either be prepared to challenge your doctor when he goes on autopilot, or find another doctor. While this may not always be easy if you live in a doctor sparse (rural) area of the US, but it still needs consideration.

The transforming of healthcare does not require more politics, or even more technology. It requires that as patients, we refocus the appointment on us, the human connection – the old fashion form of communications. We need to revitalize the doctor/patient relationship, which is simple and straightforward. Some doctors will appreciate this and some patients will need to move on to a new doctor. This is the simple truth. We are still too far from knowing what the Affordable Care Act will bring, but our health is important now.

Again, I encourage you to read these two blogs and what they are saying.

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