posted on Apr, 16 2006 @ 12:05 AM
I started reading this thread hoping to observe - and perhaps take part in - a constructive discussion. Instead I've read through pages of mud
slinging. It seems to me that there are important points to be raised on both sides of the fence, so why resort to an argument which obviously has no
end game, rather than civilly debating the points of contention in order to broaden each side's understanding of the other?
If someone dedicates their life to the study of something - particularly something which may well decide everything from the beginning to the end of
people's lives - and spends years in the pursuit of that, it is to be expected that sweeping generalizations about them or their fellows will sting a
bit when mounted against them. Perhaps, if I may make this suggestion, it would be a more practical tactic for the sake of this very important (in my
view) discussion's continuance to be more tolerant of this personal factor whether it sits right with you or not, simply in the name of ensuring the
integrity of the discussion. To do otherwise would indicate to some that while having good intentions, the person making the generalizations might
care more about being right or winning at a disagreement than they do about sharing this information and carrying out this discussion, which is -
again, in my opinion - quite important.
Likewise, if someone has been witness to wrongdoing or even what some would call atrocious acts on the part of the medical community, then it is to be
expected - while not necessarily expressed via the wisest choice of words in all cases - that they are going to have negative preconceptions about
physicians and the organizational structures in and under which they operate, and that they will openly express these preconceptions. I disagree with
the stereotypes, however I do understand them and do not disagree with the sources of such stereotypes. As such, I feel that discussion and the
exchanging of views are the only way to make the perception more proportionate to the reality. Anger at the medical community or the injustices many
see them as having committed can make it difficult for some people to trust physicians, or to refrain from shoehorning all of them into the category
of money grubbing individuals with little true regard for patients' wellbeing. While wrong in my opinion, such stereotypes are born as the result of
real experiences by many, and anyone studying medicine must be prepared to encounter such generalizations, and not to rise to the bait laid by those
who hold fast to them.
All of that having been said, I would like to return to the topic at hand by suggesting the possibility that one reason for these perceptions -
despite the fact that I do believe there are some nefarious activities on the part of the AMA and other medically oriented bodies - is that even the
most compassionate of doctors can become complacent in their work, and allow it to become a routine. This happens with most any job, and there is no
reason to believe it doesn't occur in the case of medical professionals. If you sell shoes, this might not be too huge a problem. However, if you are
responsible for the wellbeing or even survival of a person, it can create the impression - either real or inferred - that you don't truly care about
the patient. If we expand this to the profession as a whole (not every physician, obviously, but the overall impression given by the profession at
large) then we can begin to understand why so many might be distrustful of doctors even in those cases where evidence of wrongdoing isn't
present, whether it's right or not.
I believe another problem is the sheer amount of anatomical data physicians must have a firm grasp of. Suffering is subjective, and it is possible for
even the most genuinely caring of doctors (even if only in subtle or even subconscious ways) to perceive great suffering from the patient's
perspective as less complicated or serious from their own. This also sometimes inhibits doctors against flexibility and innovation while at work
(which can also result from insurance HMOs, and other factors) because universal reliance on accepted standards can blind one to facts and functions
which defy those standards. My own health problems fall in one of many such grey areas, and the excessive adherence to those standards has made my
life quite difficult because my doctor(s) refuse to allow for possibilities that may be at the root of my ailments.
I feel that one solution to many of these issues would be a twofold approach combining greater patient education, and greater physician emphasis on
empathy and the relative nature of suffering. I know doctors are already instructed with regard to this, but I feel it has taken on less proportional
importance than it has been afforded in the past as the range of subjects physicians are exposed to continues to grow exponentially, and as the
industry in which they work becomes more and more bureaucratic.