The Doctor Will See You-If You're Quick

By Brownlee, Shannon | Newsweek, April 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Doctor Will See You-If You're Quick


Brownlee, Shannon, Newsweek


Byline: Shannon Brownlee

Feeling like your doctor is rushed, distracted, or just doesn't care? You're not alone, and it may be hurting your health and your pocketbook.

Four years ago a 38-year-old adjunct professor at American University named Fred Holliday began suffering from a variety of ailments: he was losing weight, his blood pressure went up. Then he cracked a rib. And he started suffering from debilitating back pain. Each time a new problem arose, the Washington, D.C., resident visited his doctor, who dealt with his symptoms piecemeal. First she prescribed blood-pressure medication. At another visit, she chalked up his fractured rib to violent coughing from a cold he had. Then she prescribed narcotics for his back. When his pain grew worse, she simply increased the dose of painkillers.

After months of this, Fred's wife, Regina, looked up his symptoms on the Web. Together, they pointed to kidney cancer. When the worried couple went back to the doctor, Regina recalls, she walked into the exam room, reading Fred's chart, and without looking up, asked, "Mr. Holliday, do you think you're depressed?" It was a routine question, based on the number of his complaints. Regina started laughing in disbelief. "Of course he was depressed," she says. "She wasn't taking care of him." At Regina's insistence, the doctor ordered an MRI, which showed that Fred had kidney cancer. He died about three months later.

These days, stories like the Hollidays' are cropping up all over, and while most don't have such tragic endings, they are signs that something in the world of medicine is seriously amiss. Unhappy patients gripe about their doctors' brusque manner and give them bad marks on surveys and consumer websites like HealthGrades and Angie's List. They tell tales of being rushed out of the office by harried doctors who miss crucial diagnoses, never look up from their computers during an exam, make errors in prescriptions, and just plain don't listen to their patients. Studies show a steep decline over the last three decades in patients' sense of satisfaction and the feeling their doctors are providing high-quality care. And things don't seem much better from the other side of the stethoscope. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, 70 percent of doctors reported that since they began practicing medicine, the bond with their patients has eroded.

At the heart of the problem, say many doctors and policy experts, is the fraying of the doctor-patient relationship. And this is not just a question of touchy-feely good vibes: a growing body of research now points to the critical importance of having a connection to a trusted physician. "There is something in the human body that says we are hardwired to get better when we have a certain relationship," explains Howard Brody, a primary-care physician and director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston. The good news is that doctoring may have hit rock bottom--and policymakers and physicians who have begun efforts to rebuild it realize that the only way out is up.

Anyone who is old enough to have watched Marcus Welby, M.D., the program about an avuncular doctor that was the most popular show on television in the 1960s, probably remembers his or her own family doctor with at least a measure of fondness. Back then, our doctors knew us and our ailments. They knew when our kids were born, how we felt about our jobs and our spouses, and whether or not we tended toward stoicism or malingering in the face of illness and pain. Today you're lucky if your doctor knows the correct pronunciation of your name, much less your medical history.

At least part of the blame began with the managed-care revolution of the 1980s and '90s, an initially well-meaning effort intended to improve the quality of medicine and control costs, but which ended up fracturing the doctor-patient bond. Many insurers focused more on cost at the expense of quality.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Doctor Will See You-If You're Quick
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.