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March 27, 2006

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Really enjoy your site; the perspective is enlightening.

Speaking as an emergency physician who has been out of residency for only the last 9 months I can tell you that the entire "patient as customer" conversation has left me a little disheartened by what seemes to be the handwriting spraypainted on these white hospital walls. Like someone who just found out he was adopted, the nature of the once-venerated profession and practice of medicine has changed and no one bothered to tell me until I was nearly finished with residency. I suppose the single-minded drive to become a physician, to attempt to epitomize the very best of what human beings can be, has a way of propagating a somewhat naive picture of "the business of medicine" if you don't pay attention. I really want to be the warm, empathetic, and compassionate doctor that all my patients feel they can trust and count on, if only for their short ER stay and we never cross paths again. It shouldn't shock you, however, to learn that hospitals and large corporate groups have a different idea of what they need their staffs to embody: namely, the ability to generate income for them.

There are plenty of legitimate beefs that both doctors and patients have with medicine these days (mandated and unfunded care, misuse of the ER despite patient education, lazy and pompous practitioners, unrealistic demands by those who do not walk in the shoes of those they would demand from, etc...) I just think that we owe it to both patients and doctors-in-training to either leave the patient the "patient"-recognizing all that this embodies-or just complete the transformation from "patient" to "customer" and finally acknowledge medicine as nothing more than another "business" an of all that philosophy consists. Personally, I would prefer the former.

My 7-month old is fussing so I have to go; he doesn't seem to appreciate your blog like I do.

What a great comment Doctor Del...thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to retain much of those ideals that drove you to become a doctor, even as the health care industry (and the rest of us) struggle to figure out what to do.

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