THINGS HAVE BEEN PRETTY BAD FOR A WHILE...
Scroll down to a section in blue below to read one doctor's experience.
Thousands are doctors around the country have their hands tied by their hospital administrators. General public is largely unaware or non-medical professionals impact patient care.
Doctors have been facing and reluctantly complying with growing impositions from a wide range of sources. Here are some examples:
- insurance companies limiting the ability of doctors to prescribe medications that would be ideal for an individual patient and many insurance companies pay doctors laughable amounts for the work they do (trust me on that)
- medical coding system (each diagnosis and procedure has an assigned number, and many of the diagnostic code names make very little clinical sense
- electronic medical record systems (the vast majority of which have completely altered the normal physician workflow and how we gather, process and share information with each other)
- legal field (there is always a possibility of being sewed even if you did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong)
- hospital systems that work their doctors to death (if you don't know many doctors, that's because they are probably always at work and only socialize at the expense of sleep or some other vital necessity)
- ridiculous board exams, which in no way correlate with whether or not a doctor is knowledgeable and does an amazing job at caring for his or her patients (these exams take many weeks of study of random information we rarely use in real life, and take us away from patient care; not to mention, most of them are over $1,000 each (+ a few thousand for a prep course + $1,000 if you have to retake it) and have to be taken every 5-10 years.
For at least a few decades, doctors have been working on fumes (most work 60+ hours/week, many even more - I personally have regularly worked 100+ hours per week). We do not get enough sleep. We often don't have time to eat. I can't tell you how many times nursing staff would sneak in a plate of food in front of me while I was documenting patients histories patient charts, because otherwise I would not eat at all in the 9+ hour shift. I simply did not have time (trust me it was not by choice!). I can't tell you how often, as I was leaving work, I would realize that I have not had time to go to the bathroom. At all, in a 10 hour day! All of this is so wrong and unhealthy, but for many of us, it's our reality. Sadly, I am not an exception... Many doctors around the country will tell you similar stories.
The sad part is that things have been getting worse and worse every year. It's true that we now have work hour limitations have been placed onto resident and fellow physicians (doctors in their first years of working as physicians - no more than 80 hours/week and 24 hr/day of patient care [not including charting, lectures, etc, etc]. So yes, resident and fellow physicians do work a little bit less now than before, but as soon as you are done with residency or fellowship, this rule no longer applies. So yes, it's madness.
Going back to my point. Things are getting worse every year. Doctors are too busy taking care of patients, simply don't have time to fight the overwhelming force of external forces that ultimately impact how we care for our patients. Thus far, we've been able to adjust, each of us figuring out was to "work around" the system in order to deliver the best possible care to our patients.
Today, these major external forces have surpassed every boundary. Today, during this tragic pandemic, doctors are literally being forced to do the wrong thing! Many are threatened by being fired if they don't comply. I literally see hundreds of horrifying posts from doctors in private Facebook groups every day. The vast majority can't do ANYTHING to fight this!
Doctors are in a horrible position because they have an obligation to their patients, and even when hospital administrators do not provide doctors with proper masks, doctors are still going in because they can't let their patients die!
It is wrong for non-medical professionals to dictate how doctors should do their job. You want doctors, not administrators making medical decisions.
It is obvious. It is common sense. And yet, now more than ever, we have reached an unprecedented level of admitrators controlling patient care.
Please read one doctor's story below. Please share it.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW. A DOCTOR'S EXPERIENCE.
"Mostly venting. And physically sad/angry/upset at my hospital’s response to COVID. Here’s my two specific examples. (I’m FM) [Family Medicine Doctor]
1. Radiology is being told by administration that they can’t use the word COVID in their reports. It’s “scaring staff”. So they can’t say in a CXR [Chest X-ray] report “patchy bilateral infiltrates consistent with COVID,”. They just have to stop at “patchy bilateral infiltrates.” Same for CT scans, which to my knowledge, can be nearly diagnostic of COVID. We do not do this for other diagnoses. We would not hesitate on a mammogram to describe a breast lesions and say “highly suspicious for malignancy” or describe the pancreas on CT and say “consistent with pancreatitis.” Also, if/when our patients get transferred to outside hospitals, and only the imaging report goes, not the images, the receiving doctors will need to read between the lines.
2. There are two small hospital systems in my entire county. On Friday, the media reported that my county had the first positive confirmed case. The two hospitals released a joint statement saying that The case was not at either one of the hospitals. This confused me. Then my Hospital went out of his way to make another statement on Saturday again reiterating that the case was not at our hospital. However, I know that my hospital like we has four or five pending cases. I’m angry that my hospital system is either trying to deceive the public, downplay the situation, or make it look like we are still a safe place to come because COVID “is not here”. Or maybe there’s another tactic that I don’t understand. But I don’t like it.￼￼￼￼￼"
Family Practice physician
(Publishing anonymously per doctor's request)
Administrators can’t tell us how to do our jobs. If the radiologists stop using the phrase “consistent with...” it may potentially affect clinical decisions that other doctors will be making (those who provide direct patient care based on on the the radiology reports). Which means, if radiologists comply with what hospital administration demands of them, it may cost people’s lives.
Our primary obligation as doctors is to our patients, we all gave a “do not harm” oath. This obligation is much stronger than any other duty we have to our employers, or others who impede good patient care. We have never in our careers had to experience such a discrepancy between what we are told to do and what is right. On top of that, doctors who are trying to do the right thing, are being threatened with being fired.
Here is the thing. It's not that doctors are afraid to lose their jobs. No, they are not thinking about themselves. Doctors are concerned about patients and who will take care of them if the doctors are not there. They do not want to be forced to abandon their patients because the hospital administration is making wrong decisions.
That's why doctors find all this to be so overwhelming. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
As you read these words, I hope you can understand the tough position the doctors are in right now.
If doctors don't have the right masks or other protective equipment, they should not be treating patients potentially exposing them to the virus. Please refuse to be seen by a doctor (or any healthcare provider) who is not properly protected.
Doctors should not be told by their hospital administrators how to their job. Doctors should not be risking their jobs if they are doing what's right.
Don't let some bureaucrat decide your fate and the fate of your doctor.
Please help your doctors. They are there to help you. They put their lives at risk to help save yours. Ask your doctor what you can do to help.
If you see something like this happening in your community, please talk to the press! The doctors can't help themselves right now. They need you to help them take care of you the right way.
Please share! People have to know!
Dr. Maria Danilychev, M.D., is a San Diego based medical doctor with 20 years of experience and board-certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Hospice/Palliative Medicine, and as a Hospice Medical Director. Dr. Danilychev also conducts clinical trials and was one of the first responders during 9/11.