Time for Healing: Integrating Traditional Therapies with Scientific Medical Practice

By Carl Becker | Go to book overview

1.
Time for Healing
AM Introduction to the Problems and
Prospects of Integrating Complementary
Medicine

Despite the trumpeted advances of biotechnology, the costs and impersonality of modern biomedicine can be troubling. In the wake of awesome advances in scientific medicine, many patients find that doctors don't look at them as friends any more. Not only is the house call a thing of the past. When the patient goes to a modern hospital or HMO, she fills out countless forms, signs informed consent papers, talks to receptionists and nurses, waits for an hour, and then at last has a few minutes with her physician. Her physician looks at the papers that the receptionist handed her, or perhaps at a computer screen where the patient's “data” is already flickering. A nod to the patient, a few strokes on a prescription pad, and the appointment is almost over. If the patient ignores the doctor's glances at her watch and begins to explain what's been troubling her, she's likely to be told “that's not my department,” or “get back to me in a couple weeks after taking this prescription.”

To complicate things, the prescription is not always effective or without side effects. The patient finds herself paying more for insurance and hospital services than she used to pay her old home doctor, but the pricey medicines leave her more hung-over and upset than the old aspirin, orange juice, and rest that her mother's doctor used to prescribe. Come to think of it, the HMO didn't recommend rest at all—didn't even notice the shadowy circles under her eyes or the tired tone in her voice—didn't treat the patient as a person. The patient has been treated much like the car she left in

-1-

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