Physicians burn out at an alarming rate – between 32-68% depending on their specialty! Physicians have among the highest, if not the highest, suicide rate of any profession. Physicians are at the end of their rope. There are many issues that factor into this and the argument of this book is that a big portion of our healthcare problems in the USA stems from it being more of deathcare amongst the entitled instead of healthcare for the accountable. While the causes are many, malpractice plays a significant role in these statistics and that is the focus of this chapter. It is a huge issue that probably affects you more than it does the medical providers who have a target on their backs.
Dr. Reagan B. Anderson is the author of Universal Death Care… A Solution for Healthcare in the Age of Enlightenment
A friend of mine, who’s been practicing for fifteen years, has been sued three times. He didn’t have to settle the lawsuits because he did nothing wrong. They were frivolous, but lawyers took the cases, drawn by potentially massive settlements. He won all of them, yes, but the emotional damage it deals is catastrophic for a physician’s professional and private life. The consequence of being sued is the temptation to practice “defensive medicine,” to be more burnt out, to think that patients are not partners but instead are potential adversaries. The price of “defensive medicine” (to protect against frivolous, unfounded litigation) is estimated to cost at least $46 billion annually in the USA as providers order more tests, more consults, more of everything to try to protect themselves as much as possible!(1) But we know the actual cost is mountains more than just a financial hit to you and to the system.
I view patients as partners, aiming for a common goal. I entered the field because, like our doctor’s quotation above, it is a higher calling. Still, I had no idea what practicing medicine in the USA was like. I couldn’t anticipate the dangers I’d be fighting every day, and I certainly did not foresee the obstacles specifically designed to deny access to care so that the big business behind the “system” could be more profitable. It was simpler in my mind: I imagined educating patients about how to stay healthy, and, followed by their compliance, we would adjust course as necessary throughout their lifetime. Nothing could be more untrue.
Prevention is not part of treatment, so it’s not taught in public, private, undergraduate, or medical school; prevention doesn’t make money, so it is not encouraged by any part of the system. I was trained at the founding school of Osteopathic Medicine. Osteopathic Physicians are supposed to be holistic practitioners. If any doctors are supposed to know about prevention, it is the Osteopathic Physician. However, we had less than 40 hours, less than one week out of a grueling four-year curriculum, of education on diet, exercise, and mental wellbeing – the absolute foundation of any healthy life. In residency, there was not even one minute spent learning anything about prevention except to stay out of the sun. In contrast, we spent literally hundreds (if not thousands) of hours learning about prescriptions, even more hours about treatment for things that could have been prevented in the first place, and a lifetime of fighting against a system that has been designed for profit, not health.
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If we even had the education to teach preventative medicine, providers get paid less to teach patients about prevention than they do to write a prescription that will just mask the symptoms. Doctors learn how to treat disease – really, once it is too late for health. We don’t learn how to prevent it. We’re relied upon, valued, and paid when disease is already present. We are intervention, only. We primarily focus on disease and death-not in keeping people healthy. Our business is disease; unfortunately, business is very good at approximately 18% of GDP and expected to be upwards of 25% of GDP in the next 20 years – far and away the most expensive “healthcare” per capita in the world. To add insult to injury, while we have the most expensive healthcare in the world, we rank near the bottom of healthcare in the industrialized world in terms of actually keeping people healthy. The parts and participants of the USA’s “healthcare system” have fractured and it is just a matter of time before gangrene sets in.
Learn about new solutions in the new book Universal Death Care… A Solution for Healthcare in the Age of Enlightenment.
Dr. Reagan Anderson is an Osteopathic Doctor (DO) who specializes in general Dermatology and in Mohs Micrographic Surgery for the treatment of skin cancer. After graduating from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Dr. Anderson moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where he attained his Bachelor of Science and Biology from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Christian Studies degree from Regent College. Dr. Anderson was then invited to attend the founding Osteopathic Medical School, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. His latest book is entitled: Universal Death Care… A Solution for Healthcare in the Age of Enlightenment.
(1) Mello MM, Chandra A, Gawande AA, Studdert DM. National costs of the medical liability system. Health affairs. 2010 Sep;29(9):1569-1577.
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