Why Doctors Are ArrogantSubmitted by spacehabitats on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 12:34
For years I have read comments in online forums, websites, and emails complaining about the flaws in our health care system. As a physician, I can usually understand and often agree with the complaints. Some of the personal stories that I have read are truly heart-breaking. And when I recognize that the source of so much tragedy and pain results from government interference in the lives and health of my fellow citizens, the patriot in me becomes enraged.
But all too often, mixed in with these tales of woe are criticisms of a doctor or doctors who were rude, insensitive or closed-minded. Doctors are accused of having been brainwashed during their training to ignore more effective and less expensive alternative treatments. They are accused of ignoring the benefits of nutrition and prevention.
While I am sure many of these criticisms are valid, for certain physicians and in specific cases, I can't help but think that many of these stories result from a general misunderstanding of the physician's role and his perception of most day to day physician-patient encounters.
Most of the time (even when I am working in my family practice clinic and not the emergency room) patients come in with problems. They are looking for solutions, not advice.
I literally can't remember the last time a patient asked me, "Doc, how can I live a longer, healthier life?"
To try to explain this to patients, from the perspective of a physician, I have come up with a parable:
Physician as Firefighter
A fire breaks out in your home so you call 9-1-1.
The fireman arrives and asks "Where's the fire? Are there still any people in the house?"
You: "Well, its about time you got here, I called 9-1-1 SEVEN minutes ago. What took you so long?"
Fireman: "Sorry but two units were tied up with a brush fire. What floor is it on? Is anyone still in there?"
You: "You don't need to take my head off, I was just asking. I smelled smoke on the second floor. A few years ago I told my wife that we should probably get the wiring in the house checked because whenever I turned on the space heater..."
Fireman: "Excuse me, but ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE STILL IN THE HOUSE?!?"
You: "My daughter's bedroom is on the second floor but I'm sure she got out. She's a light sleeper. She's probably around back already. Hey! Where are you going? (You call as the fireman turns and runs into the house).
You: (running after the fireman) "Hey, I didn't finish telling you about the my pet dog, Fido. I think he's still in here someplace."
Fireman: (Ignores the comment. Finds daughter coming down the stairs and escorts her out of the house.)
You: "What about Fido? And you haven't asked about my expensive paintings. I don't want you using any water on the second floor."
Fireman: (Seeing smoke billowing from a second floor window.) "I'm sorry sir, I'll do my best. But if we don't hurry you could lose everything." (Starts to pull fire hose in.)
You: "Hey! I thought I told you NO WATER. My cousin had a fire in his house last year, just like this one and HIS fireman put it out with chemical retardant. And it didn't take him seven minutes to answer the 9-1-1 call either."
Fireman: "I'm sorry, I can't always use chemical retardants so I have to be ready to use the hose. Could you please stand back from the door?"
You: "You firemen are all the same. You come barging into a guy's home like you own the joint. Don't you know that I have property rights? This IS my home after I all."
Fireman: "You are absolutely right, sir. I just assumed that you wanted me to put out the fire when you called 9-1-1. Don't you?"
You: "Well, of course I do. I just didn't like your MANNER. Besides I was reading on the Internet that you could smother 87% of all house fires without firehoses by closing all of the windows and starving it for oxygen."
Fireman: (Looking incredulous) "Is THAT what you want me to do?"
You: "Well, we could try doing that for ten minutes at least. I read about it on the website of a fire CHIEF. He's got DECADES of experience and has put out HUNDREDS of fires using this technique. He's even written books about it. The only reason they don't teach his technique in firefighting school is because the instructors have all been bought off by the manufacturers of expensive fire-fighting equipment. They don't WANT fires to be extinguished cheaply and safely, it would ruin their profits."
Fireman: (Glances up at the flames now pouring from TWO second story windows. Assumes deer-in-the-headlights expression.) "Are you SURE about this? I really can't advise this. The longer we delay the harder it is going to be to put out the fire. If it grows out of control, you could lose EVERYTHING. Besides, your fire insurance carrier might not pay if they find out that you wouldn't let me use water."
You: (Looking disgusted.) "Well, I can see this is getting nowhere. You firemen all think you are God. Either that or you have been bought off. Go ahead, I guess there isn't anything I can do about it."
Fireman: (Sprints into building and puts out the fire.)
You: (The next day, complaining on Facebook.) "It took that fireman TWO hours to put out the fire. All of my paintings were ruined. It was water damage, just like I told him. Fortunately, Fido made it out through his doggie door, no thanks to HIM. And in all that time, do you think he told me ANYTHING about fire PREVENTION? Not a word. Not a word about smoke alarms or not smoking in bed. And he didn't even ask about my faulty wiring theory.
And to top it all off, he was RUDE. I can't wait to rate him on Angie's list!"