Harry Houdini grimaced in pain as he reeled from the deadly blow that later ended his life. It was a punch to the gut, no different than others he had received on stage before, except for one small fact that meant the difference between life and death.
He failed to tense up the muscles of his stomach and prepare for this particular blow.
The surprise punch, at the hand of none other than an audience participant, burst Houdini’s appendix, and his body set off toward a slow and agonizing death.
The curtain fell that evening, and before long, he was dead due to overwhelming infection.
He may have been powerful, and even clever – powerful traits in those days of fabulousness and fame – and yet, what beat the unbeatable Houdini ended up nothing more than a single, surprise jab to the gut.
Jab To the Healthcare Gut.
Sadly, the healthcare of today is also dying a slow death, having been dealt its own surprise punches.
At the outset of our careers, medicine for many of us was a kind of yellow brick road, leading to a magical future peppered with wonderment – even with occasional flying monkeys thrown into the mix.
It was simply magical.
We never imagined it would end in anything short of the crystal palace and a click of our sparkly heels to feel at home.
Sadly, #healthcare of today is also dying a slow death, having been dealt its own surprise punches. #SoMeDoc #Twittermed Click To Tweet
here we are, practicing physicians, reeling from punch after punch. At times we’re just trying to come up for air, struggling to figure out exactly what happened to our beloved profession.
If you ask any physician today why they’re unhappy in the medical field, they will most likely choose one of many explanations.
However, it all boils down to one simple fact.
We can’t provide the care we feel that you, our patients, should receive, and we’re getting punched from all directions while trying to deliver it.
You deserve better, we know it, but we are at a loss, and don’t know what to do.
We want you to feel empowered, but it can’t come at the expense of our ability to direct your care.
You come to us for help, so please allow yourselves to surrender a bit, and let us guide you. We know you are scared. But you have to put your trust in us.
We understand, for one, that Google can serve well as a guide, but it isn’t a substitute for the years of training and dedication we’ve committed ourselves to.
Google can’t listen to you, or hold your hand.
It doesn’t cry with you, or see the wrinkles on your face. The unease in your posture.
It doesn’t understand the stressors in your life, the dynamics of your illness, or have an appreciation for how you can focus on one symptom, at the expense of a more ominous one.
But we do.
Sure, we’d like you to be happy. But in medicine, we can’t always make that happen.
We can’t jump-start all hearts, we can’t cure all illnesses, and sometimes, all we can offer you is a peaceful suggestion on how to leave the world on your own terms.
Know that those are some of our worst days, too. While empowering you is imperative for a successfully functioning patient-doctor relationship, doing so with reckless abandonment, or green-lighting all of your requests, is not in your best interest, either.
Let’s go on this journey together. Let us carry you there when you are too weak or scared to walk on your own.
Loss of Control.
Physicians are simply no longer in full control. It’s the reality of medicine today. Simply put, your care is at the behest of those willing to pay for it.
Protocols and pathways now guide most of what we do and these are often set forth by insurance giants, pharmaceutical monsters, and policy makers on capitol hill. This three-headed monster guards the gateway to health care.
We feel their pressure, too. Every time we advocate for you – when you need more time in the hospital, or a particular test, or drug, or treatment – and they say no, we feel it. It happens every single day, over and over again. We can advocate for you on capitol hill, but only you, as a policy holder, small business, consumer or, more importantly, voter, can change the reality on the ground. We need you to champion us so we can champion you.
We need tort reform, too – to be able to practice free of frivolous litigation.
While we know mistakes happen and have to guard against that, the vast majority of us are dedicated, responsible and caring individuals. We cannot practice scared. It is destroying medicine. It’s why we over-order, over-test, over-medicate, over-think, and expose you to unnecessary risks.
When the ‘cover your ass’ practice of medicine overrides evidence based practice, we all suffer. You more than us. It is the reality on the ground. Advocate for us so we can advocate for you.
On top of this all, we are in a social media crisis.
Pseudoscience has essentially taken over. When you listen to raving celebrity lunatics harking to the glory days of life without vaccines, or promoting coffee enemas, bee sting therapies, or the douche d’ jour, we all suffer.
We simply do not have time to help you navigate the world of junk science. It’s frustrating to us to have to sit and refute the expertise of a playmate centerfold, or someone whose opinion you take to heart, simply because she stars on the big screen.. sometimes. That’s just not how medicine works. We know, in the simplest terms possible, that their advice can kill. It can’t be any clearer than that, so please listen to us, and not to them. We won’t steer you wrong.
Medicine requires a unique fund of knowledge and dedication that is found in few professions. We love our jobs, and want you healthy. We do this because we care about you and are keenly aware of how privileged we are in taking this trip along you side. We thank you for the trust you have in us and, ultimately, we want to be able to help you click your heels and get home safely.
And if we can do it without getting punched in the gut, while at it… well, we’ll be all the better for it.
Afternote: Thank you to Dr. Louis Profeta, for your wisdom, and for your help in editing this article.
For your pinning consideration:
While I sympathize with the sentiments and ideas expressed in this article, I picture a group of docile prisoners in a cell whose door is open, but who refuse to leave their captors.
When physicians willingly gave over power to 3rd party payers and institutional employers, the game was lost. They can take it back if they want, but they don’t want it strongly enough; thus, nothing changes; and, only gets worse for patients and physicians while insurers prosper and the institutional grip on health care tightens.
Thank for your comments, John. I appreciate input. I don’t think physicians willingly gave over power, they simply changed their practice as laws evolved. That’s one of the biggest problems we face now – that we are not properly represented in Washington, DC, where many of these decisions and laws are made in the first place. But I can also assure you that doctors are feeling the pressure now, more then ever. They are forming groups, starting to lobby, and looking for different ways they can change the playing field. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the article, we are facing a powerful three-headed monster, so it isn’t as simple ‘taking it back if we want’.
Well said , expressing in soft words a growing physician’s frustration
Thank you, Irina, for the kindness in your feedback. I am trying to approach it in a soft way, because ultimately, we are all in this together.
Thank you Dr. Corriel For this article opening up the inside of what’s going on inside of doctors hearts and minds. I’ve worked with excellent physicians since I was a teenager and it breaks my heart to look in the face of doctors that I have known that were confident in their decisions, who struggle now as they listen to our complaints, but have to come have to suppress their trained response and search for answers that are not adequate and do not provide care. When this first started I could clearly see where this is going and it’s not a good place. I have watch more movies about Hitler, and Hitler’s youth, and auschwitz. It’s horrifying to imagine what went on in the main doctors that obeyed Hitler. The only thing we read about is how they had to just change their hearts and minds and killed because they were ordered to do so. This is exactly what’s happening right now, and people are believing the news media they can’t see the depth of the damage that this is doing. Why would anybody want to completely destroy our healthcare system that has been better than any other in the world? In my Studies of where this originated, it began with United Nations of their decision to use prohibition against opioids of all kinds, saying no drugs no problem. But using no pain medication creates a catastrophic problem, And prevents doctors from adequately practicing medicine. However, I know you and all other physicians know that, and so do all those who are pushing this. Since when do psychiatrists understand treatment physical problems an actual pain that people have, and their opinion is of greater value than well trained physicians and surgeons? I’m going to say this right here that this is an Islamic agenda they don’t believe in alcohol and they definitely don’t believe in narcotics, they think that if they suffer in pain that their sins will be forgiven. Those persons, Andrew Kehlani and many others are supporting this to match their own agenda. One thing that might be accomplished is if all physicians put together their own insurance and bypass the regulations from these other insurance companies. I’m sure every person that’s being forced to pay for insurance including what we pay to Medicare would be glad to pay into the peoples physicians insurance program. Andrew Kolodny works for them, he always has. the other persons involved in this have had meetings and planned it for 20 years now. Kolodny actuallyHe’s blaming this on people on Medicaid and Medicare, which consists of disabled persons under age 65 and retired over age 65 saying that we are overdosing on her medications and we have the greatest admissions because of overdoses. Which is all false. Everything he says is a lie. All statistics being reported by everyone are all fake! So, what do we do about that?
I’m a chronic pain patient & have been disabled for 6 years. I’ve been with my Primary Dr for 11 yrs. & I would protect my Dr against the CDc/DEA/LAW if called apon. I think most patients would protect their Dr’s if we were made aware of our needed support. I only became aware of the serious plight of our medical/health system when my Dr would no longer prescribe for any chronc pain due to a very real fear of the DEA & CDCs new guidelines. Even though none of
Dr’s patients were over 90mg, the paperwork, stress, & fear was just too much. I’m just wish our Dr’s would trust us as much as we trust you, I trust & respect my Dr,, We need to stick together and fight! If Canada can pressure their government to end the torturous new CDC guidelines, why can’t we?!