Saturday, April 28, 2007

Keep Your Calculator Off My Stethoscope

“People need to take a close look at why this physician is frustrated if they want to understand the major threats to quality medical care in the US.”

I saw this comment on my blog, and it really jarred me. Of course, I knew this to be true – that docs are growing more and more frustrated every day – but when I took this simple remark down to its lowest common denominator it scared the crap out of me. We are the most powerful nation in the world, and our lives are being eroded by the bureaucracy – those bean counters with calculators in their pockets and accounting degrees on their walls.

I’m not a doc, but I write at great length about them, their lives, their vulnerabilities, what makes them tick. Because of this, I have a great affinity for their ability to tuck their uphill battles in their front pockets and get on with the job of helping people. But it shouldn’t be any great surprise that at some point those front pockets get too stuffed, and the frustrations come pouring out. What is the next move; continue on or quit? It’s an idea I’ve given thought about inflicting on one of my main characters because its social relevance affects us all.

Charity Doc, in his goodbye post (though I’m beyond giddy that he’s resumed posting again) said that he’d had it with being told how to treat his patients. If this is going to continue, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t, what’s to become of the quality of our medical care? Will this be a case where only the clinically insane decide to become doctors while the truly smart ones opt for occupations that allow for more autonomy?

And what of us? The patients? Are we destined to be butchered or misdiagnosed by those with fewer firing synapses? From where I’m sitting, those who have their fingers on the carotid artery of health care are tying docs’ hands and forcing them out of their jobs. Those of us who have viable brain cells understand that the future picture is growing bleak. You cannot continuously kill the cash cow and expect it to continue to give milk.

At any rate, after I finish Book 3, I’m going to revisit this idea. And you know what saddens me the most? I’ll have a very ripe research pool.

1 comment:

SeaSpray said...

Hi Lynn -Excellent post!