Throughout much of the 20th century, most doctors acted as general practitioners instead of specializing in a particular area of medicine. This was considered to be a holistic approach to medicine that allowed one doctor to manage a patient’s care and see them through from start to finish. Of course, this still allowed for a general practitioner to consult with a specialist if a particular issue was outside his “box,” but the general practitioner was still the primary doctor and managed the overall care of the patient. In the 1970s and ’80s, however, there was a shift in the medical industry where recent medical school graduates chose to pursue specializations instead of going into “general” medicine.
This shift lead to a change in how doctors treat patients. What was once a caring and empathetic profession has become one where the patients are often treated like cattle. This breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship was recently analyzed in an essay published in The Atlantic, where the author identified several books written by doctors that outlined many of the faults with modern medicine in America. What those doctors had to say certainly raises questions about the future of our health care system:
“Any patient in any hospital, when we take their clothes away and lay them in a bed, starts to lose identity; after a few days, they all start to merge into a single passive body, distinguishable … only by the illnesses that brought them here.”
“Medicine today values intervention far more than it values care.”
“Many doctors, working at “hyperspeed,” are so uncertain that they call in specialists just to “cover their ass” … they order tests not because they’ve carefully considered alternative approaches but to protect themselves from malpractice suits.”
The healthcare industry has switched from the pre-1970s holistic style to one insurance companies carefully guise as “patient-focused” care. Instead of having one doctor manage the treatment of a patient, they are now having army of physicians come to a patient’s bedside to “treat” the patient. The problem is, none of these doctors know anything about the patient besides her current vital signs, and instead of getting to know the patient’s history to learn the best course of treatment, many doctors are now opting for expensive lab work and diagnostic tests. Of course, it’s no secret that many doctors and hospitals are paid on a fee-for-service basis.
The essay wasn’t meant to be an indictment on doctors failing to provide adequate care, but instead, was intended to highlight the shift in the medical profession. Doctors are becoming more like assembly line workers instead of the highly trained professionals that they are. Many doctors are required to see a set number of patients per day, which causes them to act like a waitress turning over a table in a restaurant to get the next one in. On top of that, they have to squeeze these patients in between the time spent filling out electronic medical charts and addressing other administrative tasks.
On the legal side of things, we come across these types of cases where doctors are either overworked or under-informed all the time. We have seen cases where a radiologist did not spend enough time adequately examining a CT scan. We have also seen cases where a doctor did not spend the extra 5 minutes conduct a thorough neurological examination.
If you have believe you or someone you know has been the victim of medical negligence because of a doctor’s failure to thoroughly or adequately examine and treat you as a patient, please contact our office and see if we can be of assistance to you.