Medical care?

Dear Editor:

There is a vast contrast between the medical care of previous years and the present. The traditional family M.D. who treated all family members and any specific medical concern is non-existent. In lieu of the traditional family M.D., hospitals have merged and formed corporations – they are operated as profitable businesses. Patient care is merely a by-product.

A visit to an M.D., with a specific complaint or illness involves a long drawn-out process of referrals, specialists, diagnostic procedures, visits to an array of facilities, etc. And the process can only be ignited if a patient has insurance coverage. However, even with maximum insurance coverage, there is no guarantee that a patient will receive qualitative care.

The process from an initial M.D. visit for a specific complaint can be circular. One of the most frustrating factors in the medical process is the “referral syndrome” – for each specific complaint and/or anatomical part, there exists a correlating physician, who “specializes”. So therefore, a visit to a primary care M.D. is merely a minute step in the quest to alleviate pain and/or treat an illness.

There are many instances when a physician monitors a disease by frequent or sporadic office visits and medications (very often juggling dosages); so that many patients are inadvertently in a “waiting game.” They remain status quo while on supportive therapies, hoping that their illness will not progress and hoping that they will be treated/cured. Many patients are misdiagnosed and they eventually go for a second, third opinions, etc. Also, there exists fear and apprehension on the part of the patient to even question the physician. Unfortunately, the medical profession does not have cures for many of our most dreaded diseases; therefore, patients are treated symptomatically. Symptomatic treatment translates into a very profitable business for the pharmaceutical companies and the physicians. Ironically, the root of the patient’s complaint and/or illness is not addressed.

Although qualitative medical care is not guaranteed whether an individual is affluent, indigent, insured or uninsured; if indigent/uninsured, a patient’s options are drastically reduced. Senior citizens, as a group, suffer the ambiguities of a precarious health care system. Many senior citizens simultaneously have both chronic and various acute ‘conditions’ and are overmedicated. Many senior citizens revolve their lives around their medical appointments. Both senior citizens and patients with chronic illnesses are the recipients of a parasitic relationship with their health care providers and the health care system.

Many individuals are even fearful of going to an ER due to the congestion, long waits, dealing with over-worked and over-stressed staff, “pot luck” M.Ds and ‘possible’ inaccurate initial diagnoses. Cumulatively, health care is a ‘scary’ entity.

The attempt to secure qualitative medical care when needed has become ‘a lesson in futility.’ Many individuals feel fear, suspicion, frustration and anger at the overall medical/health care system.

The corporate structure has ingested hospitals and other medical care facilities and “the magic word” is insurance. “Profits instead of patients” appears to be the motto. Compassion, commitment and cure should be the ‘operative terms’ for medical care practitioners and the foundation for medical care. The motivating factor for obtaining entry into the medical care profession should be “I want to help people.” “I want to alleviate suffering.” The Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm” should be a pro-active statement/doctrine of compassion/commitment to each and every individual labeled as a patient.

— M.K.


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