Magazine article The Nation

Humanized Healthcare

Magazine article The Nation

Humanized Healthcare

Article excerpt

Many physicians now recognize they can never go back to the time when the doctor was captain of the ship and could practice without any patient or government interference. Last year, in a survey of medical-school faculty and administrators published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 57 percent said they favored a single-payer universal healthcare system over either fee-for-service or managed care. Indeed, more and more doctors are now willing to work in coalitions where they learn from and fight for the needs of those whom they have traditionally considered inferiors or adversaries.

One of the most promising examples of this shift is the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care in Massachusetts. The group-now 5,000 strong-began in 1996 when several physicians decided to initiate a moral protest against corporate healthcare. Among the committee's earliest challenges was getting different disciplines in healthcare to work together. Doctors have been accustomed to functioning as autonomous craftsmen who give orders to nurses, other caregivers and patients. After some initial difficulties the group expanded to include first nurses, then psychologists, physical therapists, medical social workers and other healthcare workers as well as patients. On December 3, 1997, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they published "For Our Patients, Not For Profits: A Call to Action," signed by more than 2,200 MDs, RNs and other caregivers.

This past fall these and other activists began collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that calls for a moratorium on converting nonprofit healthcare institutions to for-profit status and a patients' bill of rights that includes the right to universal access. …

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