Explore this issue:August 2011
The science of medicine continues to expand rapidly, and this is obviously good for humanity. The art of medicine, on the other hand, has been largely forgotten. This skill is the basis of the time-honored physician-patient relationship and is an important aspect of good patient care. So why have so many physicians forgotten this basic skill? Why would a caring physician disregard any expertise that would benefit his patient?
In today’s atmosphere of third-party payers, physicians are buried under excessive paperwork, besieged by malpractice attorneys, and if they’re surgeons, their malpractice insurance premiums are often astronomical. Physicians find it difficult to incorporate all of their duties into an eight-hour day so they work longer hours. This makes them seem hurried and irritable. Patients pick up on this and feel the doctor is callous, uncaring, or worse, arrogant.
Because the insurance company is responsible for most, if not all, of the patient’s bill, patients only go to doctors who are covered under their plan. This makes the physicians feel their patients are disloyal. Besides that, the insurance companies insist on referring to physicians as "health care providers," thereby clumping them in with anyone who interacts with a patient. This term ignores the fact that many physicians have undergone fifteen or more years of training and would prefer to be referred to by their correct title.