Disappointed with MDs
I have collected reports from patients disappointed in the medical care they
have received. For several years patients would come into my office and complain
that they had seen several doctors, had many investigations and tried many drugs
without benefit. I noted that patients routinely left the care of their
physicians and shopped around the “alternative” community and bought curious,
bizarre and often expensive tests, treatments and products with little hope of
I am aware of the limitations of physicians, however, and want my
well-educated, well-motivated reader to recognize these limitations and assume
primary responsibility for their own management. When you look critically at
modern medicine you see expensive techniques deployed to rescue individuals from
calamities which were often avoidable. Although many talk about the "health-care
system", they are really talking about a high-cost medical intervention system,
directed at treating diseases that are fully developed, but not preventing
disease. While “high- tech” medicine promises miraculous cures, it remains late
on delivery. There is a short list of problems which can be fixed by medical or
surgical methods but a much longer list of problems which cannot be fixed.
One problem is that MDs seldom learn how to manage food-related diseases. In
the physician’s mind, food is someone else’s responsibility. Physicians, like
everyone else, have prejudices and preconceptions that limit their understanding
of the complex issues that determine food selection, metabolism and the
consequences of bad diets. Both physicians and patients have an overwhelming
bias in favor of drug and surgical treatments. Medical practice is based on a
routine of ordering tests and writing prescriptions for drugs. While diet and
“lifestyle” modifications are mentioned in medical texts, few MDs pursue this
approach to patient management.
Many MDs have argued that the task of changing patients’ habits is beyond
their mandate, is too time-consuming, and is often futile. Even if MDs are
interested in solving food-related problems, they are usually too rushed to
spend the time necessary teach patients the knowledge and skills they require to
self-manage effectively. There is a fundamental misunderstanding between doctors
who know something about their limitations and patients who often have
unrealistic expectations for fast solutions. Both sides of the relationship
become frustrated and tend to act irrationally when quick and easy solutions do
not work. The more passive and dependent a patient is, the deeper this
misunderstanding grows and the more expensive it becomes. Patients demand more
investigation, referral, and support services; physicians tend to order more
tests and prescribe more drugs and that are increasingly potent and more risky.
When neither strategy works, many illnesses remain unsolved, suffering is not
relieved and expensive problems continue to drain the resource of individuals
and their communities.
- You are at Alpha Online. Medical Care Perspectives and Planet Ecology is produced by Alpha Education
Books and Persona Digital Books. These brief essays by Dr. Stephen Gislason are taken from his book
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Self Care for the 21st Century is available as
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