If you get sick
with something the doctors don’t understand
you will be labeled
They will try to drug you.
How do you tell
when they are right
and you are crazy
brain on fire
and when you aren’t?
Don’t ask me.
I’m a Family Practice doc
and I’m rural
and I’m a girl.
I’m the one they make fun of in the medical schools. “The rural doctor transferred this patient.”
Yes we did.
Because we knew it was something
that needed more
than we had
in our small town
in our small hospital.
Once a neurosurgeon says,
“You are transferring the patient
because it’s Friday
and you don’t want to work
on the weekend.”
“She needs an MRI,” I say
“and we don’t have one.”
and transfer her anyway.
I call two days later.
After the MRI, she is in
the operating room
for a tumor in her spine.
He doesn’t call me back
but I hope he remembers.
I certainly do, after years
If you get sick with something the doctors don’t understand you will be labeled unstable mental bipolar crazy.
I was pricing health insurance in case I get well enough to work more. I can get an $800 a month with a $8000 deductible or a $1435 a month with a $2000 deductible. I would very much like to work part time treating Long Covid. But, ironically enough, looks like I can’t afford health insurance. It costs more than the malpractice would. Ironic, huh? It’s not like we need doctors. (I do not have a medical release yet anyhow, but time to do research. It’s making me gloomy.)
You know, if we do get Artificial Intelligence, it will take one look at the United States Medical non-system, decide we are insane, and wipe us out.
And honestly, when I was working for the hospital clinics, I thought the most brilliant person in our office was the woman who could extract a prior authorization from so many insurance companies. I would send the referral to print and half the time she would have it authorized by the time the patient got to the front desk. And why do we waste all that brilliance on giving health insurance companies a profit of 20 cents out of every dollar? That is $20,000,000 out of $100,000,000. Looks worse with bigger numbers, doesn’t it?
Why? The problem with templates in primary care medicine is they focus on getting a specific list of questions answered for something like ear pain or back pain. They miss the weird stuff. They miss the outliers.
I hated the templates when we got our first electronic record in the early 2000s. The doctors who liked computers spent a year picking the system. Then they trained all the clinics for one week and we all went live. One of the biggest problems was that they liked computers and talked the language. We didn’t. We quit asking questions within a week, because when we asked a question it 1. Was a user problem and 2. They treated us like we were stupid and 3. They answered in Geek, which we did not understand.
We quit asking questions. The nurses and I all filed for workman’s comp because our shoulders locked up. Our shoulders hurt. We figured out how to get the stupid thing to work. Every doctor and nurse and PAC and nurse practitioner worked to figure it out on our own.
Two years later, they set up some standards for use. We resisted again, because they gave us orders in Geek and anyhow, we had no respect for them and we didn’t care. Change what we were doing? After no support for two years? Good luck!
It took me two years and three months to get the system to write what I considered a good clinic note. I had contacted an outside specialist three months in and asked how our notes were.
“You want me to be honest?” he said.
“They suck. They are useless.”
“That’s what I thought.” I went on fighting the system and hating it. I won, eventually. Parts of my note continued to suck, but I figured out how to work around the stupid templates and put in some REAL information.
Now wait, you say, is the template totally useless?
In some situations, like emergency rooms, it may be very useful. It helps keep a harried ER team with four people from a car wreck from missing something. And if you are an ENT, otolaryngologist, you do see a lot of ear and mouth and throat things, so templates may help. But I think they are terrible for primary care.
They are good for billing, though. If you have all the boxes checked, the insurance company pays, and you can move on to the next victim. The insurance companies pay more if you see more people in a day. That is why our administration said, “See people for one thing per visit.”
However, that is not ethical. Say it is a 70 year old diabetic with atrial fibrillation on coumadin with a bladder infection. You cannot just say bladder infection and slap them on sulfa. For one thing sulfa screws up the coumadin and puts them at risk for bleeding. For a second, diabetes can affect kidney function and so can age and you have to adjust antibiotic dose for lower kidney function. For a third, if their glucose levels are out of control, the infection may not be controlled by an antibiotic. It’s not one thing. And the average patient has 4 chronic disorders in a study way back in the early 2000s. That means some people have none, some people have eight or more and most people have 3-5. Hypertension, diabetes, toe fungus, chronic shoulder pain, heart disease, the list goes on and on.
In any visit, I am alert for the things the DON’T fit. One time I am doing a new patient visit for back pain and note that she is hoarse. I bug her about the hoarseness. She admits it is continuous and has been there for two months. I do two referrals, because continuous hoarseness can be laryngeal cancer.
When she returns, she thanks me. She has vocal cord polyps, not cancer, but needs laser surgery. “You didn’t have to do that but you did.” she says. And do I feel good about not ignoring it? The visit went over time, but I’d rather go over time than miss laryngeal cancer, right?
We were taught to let the patient talk. Open ended questions. They’ve done studies that doctors cut people off from telling their stories very very quickly. If you let people talk, sometimes they say something that doesn’t fit the template, and we have to pay attention. Sometimes a comment or a couple comments are the clue, the key, the thing that doesn’t fit. Don’t force it into the template. Pay attention instead.
The very serious group of people is a county medical meeting, 2014.
My cousin asks me once, why do doctors say, “This will only hurt a little?’ when they give a shot.
I thought about it. “It’s a matter of scale. Picture this: in room one, I have a woman who thinks her lung cancer is back and it is. In room two I have a mother and daughter crying because the daughter is pregnant and frightened. In room three, I have a well adult who needs a vaccination. Scale their levels of pain.”
Room one is very high, room two is very high, room three barely registers on my pain scale.
I would give out a health department vaccination information booklet by 24 weeks to my pregnant patients, especially the first pregnancy. I previously had given it later, but then I had a woman who refused the child’s vaccines at visit after visit after visit, saying that they were still doing research. The child still had no vaccinations at 9 months.
Remember the woman who refused vaccinations for her children? She had more than four children. They all got whooping cough, pertussis. They whooped for months and were on quarantine. They were not allowed out of the household, any of them, until they were no longer infectious. The mother said she now was for vaccines and got them vaccinated.
I have seen adults with pertussis. Adults do not whoop but they cough. They can cough until they throw up or until they break a rib. For months. It is not fun at all. The adult Tdap stands for tetnus, diptheria, and acellular pertussis. I have never seen a case of diptheria and I don’t want to. It sounds horrible and can kill.
Have I seen a complication of a vaccination? One in 30 years of practice. And I know a person who had a complication, but they were not my patient.
The illnesses cause way more damage and disability than the vaccine. In residency I care for a young man in a group home. He can’t talk and has an odd skull shape. His mother got measles during the pregnancy. Measles is one of the infections that can cause severe birth defects. Get vaccinated before getting pregnant, though half the pregnancies in the US are “unintended”. That usually means “unbirthcontrolled”. I do not really understand that, since the risk of pregnancy in a fertile woman is one in four every time. Twenty five percent seems a pretty high risk to me.
I’ve written about my response to my last Covid-19 vaccination. It’s not a complication. It is an antibody response and it means that my immune system is WORKING, though admittedly it is weird and annoying. I don’t like the muscle dysfunction, but I will get the vaccinations anyhow.
I have a very alternative young woman in for prenatal care once. I give her the vaccination booklet. “Oh, my child is getting every vaccine there is,” she says.
“May I ask why? I was not expecting you to say that.”
“I was in the Peace Corps in Africa. I have seen kids die from every single one of the diseases we vaccinate for. My kid will get ALL the vaccinations.”
In Practicing conflict, I wrote about practicing conflict by arguing different sides of a topic inside my head. I wrote that I don’t fear conflict and have learned to enjoy arguing with myself. I am a physician and physicians argue all the time.
What? No they don’t. Well, the doctor persona does not argue with the patient much. Some doctors give orders to patients, others try to negotiate, some try to convince. But behind the scenes, doctors are more like the Whacky Racer Car with the Cave Guys, running with their feet and hitting each other with clubs.
In residency in Family Practice at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, I start on General Surgery during internship. This is in the early 1990s and there was not much in the way of “disruptive physician” rules. I have to cover Trauma and Plastic Surgery and General Surgery at night on call. The resident is present but I get paged first for patients on the floor. I learn that I should go to all Trauma pages in the emergency room. If I know what is happening with the new Trauma patient, it’s a lot easier to handle the phone calls for more drugs and so forth. Also, the resident is less mean to me.
We attend the Trauma “Grand Rounds”. These are unreassuring to a new intern. A resident presents a trauma patient, giving the history in the accepted formal order. The Faculty Trauma Surgeons interrupt, disagree with management of the patient and yell. They yell at the resident and at each other. The upper level residents yell too, being well trained. The Trauma Surgeons do not agree with each other. They are inflammatory and rude. I am shocked initially: medicine is not a cookbook, is not simple and it appears that it is a controversial mess. It turns out that medicine IS a controversial mess.
There is not as much yelling on the next rotation. At that time Trauma Surgeons yelled more than any other set of doctors that I ran across. They yelled in the ER, at each other, at the staff, at the nurses, at the residents. The culture has changed, I suspect, but that’s how it was then.
I take Advanced Trauma Life Support as a third year resident. The Trauma Surgeons at OHSU helped write the course. They don’t agree with it. On some questions the teaching Surgeon says, “The answer to this question is (c), “ followed by muttering loudly, “though I totally don’t agree with that and I would do (b).” Another Trauma resident or surgeon then might start arguing with him, but they moved on pretty quickly, to teach the current agreed best practices in the book. Which change every few years. Great.
Years later (2009) I join the Mad as Hell Doctors, to go across the US talking about single payer. They are a group from Oregon. Physicians for a National Healthcare Program are a bit cautious with us the first year: we might be whackos. We have an RV with our logo and we have a small fleet of cars and what do you think we do in the cars? We argue. Or discuss. Or whatever you want to call it. We spend the driving dissecting issues and how to present things best and tearing apart the last presentation and rebuilding our ideas. The group does 36 presentations in 24 days. Each presentation takes an hour to set up, two hours to do and another hour to break down and debrief. We get more and more exhausted and cranky and um, well, argumentative, as the trip proceeds. Even though I think of the Whacky Racer Cave Guys running with their feet and bonking each other with clubs, this is the most wonderful group of doctors I have ever been with. A common goal that we all want to get to, discussing and disagreeing on strategy all the way! I feel closer to those physicians in a week then I feel to any of the physicians that I’ve worked with for the last 9 years in my small town. Conflict with a common goal.
Doctors are TRAINED to argue, even with themselves, to document every decision in the chart with reasons why they have reached that decision. And that they have thought about all of the reasons for say, a low potassium, thought of every possible cause and worked their way through testing. The testing always has two strands. One strand is rule out the things that could kill the person NOW, even if rare. The other strand is what is common? You have to think about both at the same time, always. And argue with yourself about which tests should be done, in what order, what is most important, how do you treat the person while awaiting results, and have I missed anything? And if we aren’t sure, we call another doctor, run it by them, wait for them to shoot holes in our logic or to say, no, I can’t think of anything else.
We can deal with conflict. We must deal with conflict. The world is too small not to deal with conflict, with disagreements, with different viewpoints and positions and ideas. If doctors can do it every single day at work, then everyone else can too. Trying to see all the positions and possible diagnoses saves lives in medicine. We need to extrapolate that to everything else. Try to see other positions, try to understand them, to respect them. We can and we must.
Since I have been a family doctor in my town of 9000 for 22 years, the grocery store and coffee shops can be interesting. When I moved here, my daughter was two and my son was seven. We have three grocery stores. I usually go to the one 7 blocks from my house. I would see patients. My diabetics would sometimes look guilty and scurry away when they saw me. Another patient comes to peer in my cart.
“I want to know if YOU are eating healthy food.” he says.
“I don’t see any vegetables.” he says.
“I am in a CSA,” I say. “I get a box from the farm once a week.”
He frowns. “Do you get to choose?”
“No,” I say. “But since I hate throwing vegetables out, we eat more vegetables. Also, we eat ones that are unfamiliar. The first time I got celery root, I had to look it up. I didn’t know what it was.”
He nods. “Hmmm. Ok. We want to be sure you practice what you preach.”
I laugh again. “I sneak in to get the ice cream at midnight, ok? And where is YOUR cart?”
“My wife has it,” he says. “You don’t get to see it.”
“Ok, then. Have a great day.”
When we were first in town, occasionally someone would come start talking about their health in a store.
“I can’t discuss your health in front of my children. HIPAA.”
“Oh,” they’d say, “Uh, yeah. I should call the clinic Monday?”
We had a coffee shop that made the best pastries that I’ve had since I was an exchange student in Denmark. I wished they’d make tiny pastries, bite size, for the diabetic folks. Those folks would slide a newspaper over their plate when I walked in with my family. They looked terribly guilty. I might nod, but I wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes they would confess at the next visit.
There are lots of jobs in small towns where people are very much public figures. Not just doctors, but the people who work for the city and the county, the ones who redo the taxes for homes, the realtors, all sorts.
After I was divorced, another doc at the hospital asks, “Dating someone new?”
I frown, “How do you know?”
She grins, “He lives on my street. I saw you.”
Dang it. The rumor mill is very very efficient and can often be fabulously wrong. That time it was correct, though I don’t think she passed it around. Other people live on the street.
A few days ago someone that looked familiar walks by me. “What are you doing with so-and-so?”
I laugh. “Rumors abound.” I say. “You would not believe the rumors!”
I took the photograph of the coyote yesterday, driving home. Stopped dead in my lane, no one else on the road. People will be stopped in the road here, talking to each other in two cars going opposite directions, or talking to a friend on foot.
Auto-antibodies are antibodies that we make against something else that then attack a part of ourselves. The most well know version of an auto-antibody is Rheumatic Fever, where an antibody to streptococcus A attacks the joints or skin or heart. I had a patient in Colorado who needed a new heart valve at age 10 or 11 because of Rheumatic Fever.
I have written a lot about PANDAS and PANS (respectively Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep A and Pediatric Acute Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) because an older psychiatrist was suspicious that I have PANS. I have had pneumonia four times and it is accompanied by anxiety and fear, part of which turns out to be hypoxia and tachycardia. I think a heart rate of 135 makes just about ANYONE feel anxious. It feels awful.
But what about other Behavioral Health Diagnoses? Remember, we are on the DSM V, the fifth manual of psychiatric diagnoses. We have not had markers or a clear cause. That is, we are aware that serotonin is low in the intracellular spaces in the brain with depression but we don’t know what the mechanism is, what the cause is and what exactly is happening in the neuron or brain cells. A paper on a particular rat neuron said that there were 300 different types of serotonin receptors on that neuron. Blocking one type caused rats to act in an obsessive compulsive manner. But there are 299 others and then combinations. Whew, there is a lot to be learned about the brain.
Autoimmune disorders are more common in women. We think this is because of pregnancy. The woman’s immune system has to tolerate a pregnancy where half the genetic material is from the father. Yet the immune system also has to recognize “not me, infection” and be able to distinguish that from the pregnancy. This is tricky. The most common autoimmune disorder currently is believed to be Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, where there are self antibodies to the thyroid. Post covid could potentially beat this out.
Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia have been orphan diseases in that we do not have an inflammation marker that defines them. The ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and CRP (um) are usually normal. These are often elevated in rheumatological disorders. Not having a marker doesn’t mean that the muscles are not painful and doesn’t mean that the fatigue is not real.
I am hopeful that we are on the cusp of a true revolution in medicine, with more understanding of the immune system and behavioral health disorders, as well as post covid, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I worked at the National Cancer Institute in the 1980s before medical school, with Steve Rosenberg, MD. He was trying to get the immune system to fight cancer.
The patch for the National Cancer Institute shows a man fighting a crab: Cancer, the crab. Dr. Rosenberg talked about Sysiphus, who was rolling a stone up a mountain eternally while it rolled back on him. From here: Later legend related that when Death came to fetch him, Sisyphus chained Death up so that no one died. Finally, Ares came to aid Death, and Sisyphus had to submit. In the meantime, Sisyphus had told his wife, Merope, not to perform the usual sacrifices and to leave his body unburied. Thus, when he reached the underworld, he was permitted to return to punish her for the omission. Once back at home, Sisyphus continued to live to a ripe old age before dying a second time.
Maybe the stone has reached a resting place. Blessings and peace you. Please peace me.
One thing that makes me gloomy, as a Family Practice Physician: the only person who has read my medical notes from the multiple specialists is ME.
Since March 2021, I have seen Family Practice, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Infectious Disease, Immunology and Psychiatry. I am in a rural area, so this involves three different hospital systems. They all use the EPIC electronic medical record, but they won’t release information to each other. I have gotten two of them hooked together under ONE of my names and passwords but guess what: my primary care physicain can’t see the notes from the other sites. Only I can. “Proprietary infromation.” Hey, you stupid medical non-systems, this is MY healthcare, MY notes, and YOU SUCK.
My primary care physician COULD request the notes from my pulmonologist but she hasn’t. I find this incomprehensible. I have been on oxygen for over a year. I guess my doctor frankly doesn’t care. Has she farmed my lungs out to pulmonology and doesn’t have to pay attention any more? My goal in practice was to have all of the specialists’ notes. If that was five different specialists, I requested them. Ok, it is next to impossible to get psychiatry notes. I keep wondering if psychiatrists really write notes. The patients never seem to know what diagnosis the psychiatrist is using. One hundred percent of the people that I have seen put on an (addictive) benzodiazepine say that it is for sleep. Meanwhile, at the conferences, the psychiatrists say that primary care should not give the patients benzodiazepines for sleep. I raise my hand: “Even when you psychiatrists have started them? The patients all say it’s for sleep. We don’t know WHAT you have them on it for.” When I try to stop the benzo, the patient has a fit and says that psychiatry said they have to have it. And the psychiatrist has retired or left or changed the phone number and there are no notes ever.
Anyhow, I am counting up specialists. I had really bad strep A pneumonia in 2012 and 2014. Since 2012 I have seen 20 specialists. That is counting the three Family Practitioners, because Family Practice is a specialty too. I thought it was about taking care of the whole person, which to me means reading all the specialists notes, but not one of the ones I have been to has done that.
So the medical system is an abject failure. I blame the US citizens. We choose the system with our votes. We need medicare for all, single payer healthcare, and one electronic medical record for all of the United States. Right now, there is a push to privatize medicare and turn it over to For Profit. We need to fight this and we need to demand better healthcare. Hospital organizations should not be refusing to send my clinic note to my primary care doctor. It is stupid and bad care.
A friend calls today and says that another person is bleeding and yet they have been set up to be seen Monday. Why isn’t this an emergency?
Based on the limited information the friend tells me, I agree with the doctors. It is NOT an emergency and I explain why. It is uncomfortable for the person because it may be cancer. Why is that not an emergency?
Let’s use chest pain in the emergency room as an example. Doctors have two brain tracks that are triggered simultaneously by every patient. The first one is “What could kill this person in the next five minutes?” The second is “What is common?” Common things are common and more likely. In medical school the really rare things are nicknamed zebras. You know there are a lot of horses but you can’t miss the zebra. I suppose that in Africa the common things are zebras and the rare ones are orcas or something like that.
Anyhow, the killers for chest pain are heart attacks, sudden death. But there could also be a dissecting aortic aneurysm, where the largest artery in the body is tearing. That person can bleed to death really really fast and that is a surgical emergency. No doctor wants to miss it. There could be a pulmonary embolism, a clot blocking the lung. Chest pain could be from a cancer. A very rare chest pain is from the valve leaflets in the heart tearing so that the person goes in to flash pulmonary edema. And there is Takayasu’s Arteritis, “broken heart syndrome”, where the heart suddenly balloons in size and again, heart failure ensues. Heart failure is actually pump failure, so fluid backs up in the lungs or the legs or both. It is usually slow but rarely very fast and dramatic. A collapsed lung can also cause a lot of pain. And my list is still not complete, I haven’t mentioned pericarditis or myocarditis or a compression fracture.
The common things do include heart attacks, but also anxiety, musculoskeletal problems, inflamed cartilage of the chest wall, fibromyalgia flares, broken ribs, trauma and other things. I was very puzzled in clinic by a woman with pain on both sides of her lower chest wall. In front but cutting through her chest. I ruled out many things. I thought that it was her diaphragm. I sent her to a rehab doctor for help. The rehab doctor sent her to radiology. She had a compression fracture of her spine and the nerves were sending pain messages on both sides. That was not even on my “differential diagnosis” list, because she had no back pain at all. My list changed that day.
Physicians and nurse practitioners and physicians assistants and registered nurses and licensed practical nurses and medical assistants are all trained to think of this differential diagnosis. We are alerted by the history and have to think down both pathways. Last year working as a temporary doctor, the medical assistant came to me saying, “This patient’s blood pressure is 80/60.” “Is he conscious?” I asked, as I went straight for the room. “Yes, he’s talking.” He WAS talking, which means that he’s gotten to 80/60 slowly or is used to it. His heart rate was fast, up near 120. I immediately had him drink water and keep drinking, as soon as he denied chest pain. The problem was dehydration: he was developmentally delayed and had only had one cup of fluid that day and it was now midafternoon. I spent time explaining that he needed 8 cups each day. Not more than that, because if he had too much fluid, it would lower his sodium and make his muscles weak. Most days he drank 3-4 cups. His chart graphed the problem: some days he had normal blood pressure and a normal heart rate. Other days his blood pressure was below normal and his heart rate was fast, his heart trying to make up for the low level of fluid. Cars don’t do so well when there is almost no oil, do they? His kidneys were affected as well. I asked him to drink the 8 cups a day, discussed the size of the cup (not 8 gallons, please) and then recheck labs in 2 weeks. If his kidneys did not improve, he would need a kidney specialist. It turned out that he had nearly fainted that morning in the waiting room. His group home person admitted that no one had noticed that he really was not drinking fluid. I thought that the patient understood and would try to drink a better amount of fluid.
So back to the person I was called about. Infection has been ruled out. This is blood in the urine. A kidney stone has been ruled out, but there is something in the kidney. This is urgent, but if the person is not bleeding hard, it is not emergent. When there is blood in the urine it does not take very much to turn it red. If there is a lot of blood, that can be an emergency, but from the story I got third person, it’s not very much. The emergency things are ruled out but there is still not a clear diagnosis. Yes, cancer is one of the possibilities but it could also be benign. Now a specialist is needed to figure out the next step and the differential diagnosis, the list of things it could be. They will order tests in the same dual order: what could kill this person quickly and what do we need to rule out as common? People often can be very anxious during this period, which is normal. The person says, “I don’t care what it ISN’T, I want to know what it IS.” But sometimes it is a zebra and it takes a while to get to that specific test.
Another example is a woman that I sent to the eye doctor. The optometrist thought it was something rare and bad. He sent her to the opthamologist, who ruled out the first thing, but thought it was something else rare and bad. He sent her to a retinal specialist. The retinal specialist ruled out the second rare and bad thing and said, “No, you have something very rare that is benign.” My patient said, “I have three diagnoses. Who do I believe?” I replied, “No, you have one. The optometrist knew it was unusual and sent you to an eye doctor. The eye doctor know it was unusual and sent you to an even more specialized eye doctor (a “sub specialist”. We keep them in basements.) Now you have a diagnosis. It was a scary process, but I think you should focus on the third opinion because hey, she said it’s benign and it won’t hurt you! That is the best outcome!” She thought about it and agreed. The process was frightening but the conclusion could not have been better.
The latest issue of Family Practice Medicine has an article on patient satisfaction scores.
I remember my first patient satisfaction score VIVIDLY.
I am in my first family medicine job in Alamosa, Colorado. I receive a 21 page handout with multiple graphs about my patient satisfaction scores. I am horrified because I score 30% overall. I am more horrified by the score than the information that I will not receive the bonus.
I go to my PA (physician’s assistant). He too has scored 30%. We are clearly complete failures as medical providers.
Then I go to my partner who has been there for over 20 years.
She snorts. “Look at the number of patients.”
“What?” I say. I look.
My score is based on interviews with three patients. Yes, you read that correctly. THREE PEOPLE.
And I have 21 pages of graphs in color based on three people.
I am annoyed and creative. I talk to the Physicians Assistant and we plan. I call the CFO.
“My PA and I think we should resign.”
“We scored 30% on the patient satisfaction. We have never scored that low on anything in our lives before. We are failures as medical people. We are going to go work for the post office.”
“NO! It’s not that important! It is only three patients! You are not failures!”
“Three patients?” I ask.
“Yes, just three.”
“And you based a bonus on three patients? And sent me 21 pages of colored graphs based on three patients?”
“I think we should discuss the bonus further….”
I did not get the bonus. It was a total set up and I am not sure that ANYONE got that bonus. Much of the maximum “earning potential” advertised was impossible for any one person to get. You would have to work around the clock. They got out of paying us by having multiple bonuses that each required a lot of extra work…. They were experts in cheating the employed physicians. That became pretty clear and I was 5th senior physician out of 15 in two years, because ten physicians got right out of there. I lasted three years, barely. I knew I would not last when an excellent partner refused her second year of $50,000 in federal rural underserved loan repayment to quit AND stayed in the Valley working in the emergency room. I called the CEO: “Doesn’t this get your attention?”
“She just didn’t fit in.”
“Yes, well, I don’t think anyone will.” I asked my senior partner how she stayed. “You pick your turf and you guard it!” said my partner. I thought, you know, I hope that medicine is not that grim everywhere.
Unfortunately I think that it IS that grim and getting grimmer. Remember that in the end, it is we the people who vote who control the US medical system. If we vote to privatize Medicare, we will destroy it. Right now 1 in 5 doctors and 1 in 4 nurses want to leave medicine. Covid-19 has accelerated the destruction of the US medical non-system, as my fellow Mad as Hell Doctor calls it. We need Medicare for all, a shut down of US health insurance companies, and to have money going to healthcare rather than to paying employees $100,000 or more per year to try to get prior authorizations from over 500 different insurance companies all with different rules, multiple insurance plans and different computer websites. Right now I have specialists in four different local systems. The only person who has read everyone’s clinic notes is ME because it is nearly impossible to get them to communicate with each other. Two of them use the EPIC electronic medical record but consider the patient information “proprietary” and I have to call to get them to release the notes to each other. Is this something that we think helps people’s health? I don’t think so. I have trouble with the system in spite of being a physician and I HATE going to my local healthcare organization. Vote the system down and tell your congresspeople that you too want Medicare For All and single payer.
I have had people say, but think of all the people out of work when we shut down insurance companies. Yes AND think of the freedom to start small businesses if we no longer have to fear the huge cost of insurance: Medicare for all!
Refugees welcome - Flüchtlinge willkommen I am teaching German to refugees. Ich unterrichte geflüchtete Menschen in der deutschen Sprache. I am writing this blog in English and German because my friends speak English and German. Ich schreibe auf Deutsch und Englisch, weil meine Freunde Deutsch und Englisch sprechen.
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