April 4, 2010

USA: The Waning of Private Medical Practice

. NEW YORK, NY / The New York Times / Opinion / Letters / April 4, 2010 Re “More Doctors Giving Up Private Clinics” (Business Day, March 26): I differ with the assumption that a large health care organization ensures a “higher quality” of care. As the article observed, “the intimacy of longstanding doctor-patient relationships” is disappearing. In institutional settings, “people” become “patients,” waiting long hours to see their doctors and, when finally seen, are examined by physicians who barely know their names. To “patients,” quality means being seen and heard as a person. It’s when a doctor sits down and listens to their complaints, and has time to palpate a tender belly, to listen to a heart, to check the pallor under the eyelids and, only then, refer them for tests. Illustration by Morgan Elliott As a midwife who provides home birth services, I see women who want to feel respected in health care. Many have had birth experiences in hospitals managed by physicians in large groups, who use a by-the-clock approach to labor management, leading to labor inductions and frequent Caesarean sections. Our health care innovators need to find a way to support a system that is financially viable without resorting to an assembly-line approach. People who feel respected are less apt to sue. Keep “the human” in the equation, and I believe that malpractice suits will decline, reducing the fear-based style of health care. Marcy Tardio Brooklyn Read more letters on this subject from The New York Times readers [rc] Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company