Our medical system needs more positive stories

I’ve been asked to appear on a radio talk show to discuss one of my blog articles.  It seems that the producers of the show were impressed by my article on the beauty of medicine when it works the way it’s supposed to.

“When It Works Right, It’s a Thing of Beauty” was published this summer and is one of my favorite articles.  The practice of medicine is a beautiful thing.  When I first started in medicine over 30 years ago, the practice of medicine was commonly referred to as the “Art of Medicine.”  Today, things are different.

Being interviewed about the above article has highlighted how bad things in my world appear to others.  When the art of practicing medicine and the beauty it creates becomes noteworthy, it highlights just how sullied and damaged my love has become.

In the last 2 years, I have published 33 success stories.  I have been witness to thousands.  Doctors have become the whipping boys of the insurance industry, the government, the lawyers, and many other special interest groups who have flesh in the game.  Yes, it’s a game called “Can you break the doctor-patient relationship?”

It’s a high stakes game.  There are lots of bucks at stake and the art of medicine appears to have lost.  Why play such a destructive game?  Why spray paint graffiti over a Mona Lisa?  The answer is a simple one, money, and the main players want more of it.  To get it, doctors and the medicine they practice had to be sacrificed on the public alter.

Let’s look at the players.  The insurers want to maximize profits and control both doctors’ and their patients’ access to medical care.  The government wants to cut expenses and control a doctor’s behavior in order to cover the government’s rising debt and fiscal irresponsibility.  The lawyers want to generate malpractice suits, protocols, and contracts.  Third party pharmacy managers want to maximize their profits by pushing generic medications.

Doctors just want to care for their patients.  As a matter of fact, the doctor-patient relationship requires the doctor to put his/her patient’s needs above everything else.  As long as the doctor-patient relationship exists, the insurer, government, lawyers and other involved parties would lose the game.

Unfortunately, all parties involved in the game of “Can you break the doctor-patient relationship?” are experts at manipulating the media with the exception of the lowly doc who goes to work every day delivering the best care he/she can.

Is it any surprise that the only thing you hear about on TV or read in the paper is about our broken healthcare system?  It shouldn’t be.  Let me share a secret with you.  The medical system in the US is not as broken as you think.  Every day, the system saves lives.  Every day, brilliant diagnoses are made by hard working physicians and the vast array of paramedical staff running hospitals, outpatient diagnostic centers, and clinics across the country.  Every day the insured and the uninsured receive care.  Yes, the system functions 24/7.

When it works right, it is truly a beautiful thing and it works right on a daily basis across the US.  You just don’t hear about it.  The beauty of modern medicine is not noteworthy and will never be highlighted by the news media.  The art of medicine is lost to most, hidden in a closet by the press and powers that be.  It’s about time that it is removed from that closet placed in the daylight for others to enjoy.  It’s about time that patients who have been well served by the medical complex let their voices be heard.

If you or your family has been witness to the good in our medical system, have been cared for by doctors and nurses in offices or hospitals, share this article with your social circle, post it to your Facebook or Twitter account.  If your life has been saved by a physician, share your story with others.  Yes, there are medical disasters and mistakes, and we certainly hear about them; but there are many more success stories that no one hears about.

When it works right, it’s a thing of beauty.  Share the beauty with others; get it out of the closet.  It’s about time someone speaks up.

Stewart Segal is a family physician who blogs at Livewellthy.org.

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