Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Is The Doctor-Patient Relationship Like A Marriage?

It was like we were breaking up.

She stared at the ground longingly, and lifted her eyes from time to time as she spoke. She valued my care of her mother. She would never forget how I stood at the bedside during those last moments. And then there was her own health crisis. The emergency surgery was made more bearable by my familiar face in the emergency room explaining what would happen step by step.

She couldn't afford my new practice model. She crunched the numbers, and it just wasn't feasible. She didn't blame me. She understood that like any relationship, sometimes things just don't work out. Even businessmen and service providers have the right to raise their prices. She wouldn't argue with such innate American principles.

She was going to miss me, and I, her. The doctor-patient relationship can be like a marriage. Somewhere between the pointing and clicking, the arguing with insurance companies, and the struggles with preauthorizations, a true bond forms. We were two people, thrust together by unfortunate circumstances, who stood side by side for a portion of life's uncomfortable winding pathway.

Now our roads were diverging. For better or worse, we would go our separate ways. Many will look at me and point the finger of responsibility.

I will not deny my role in this unfortunate travesty.

But how many are facing similar circumstances forced by our current crumbling healthcare system? How many breakups are happening each day? How many primary care doctors are going concierge? How many internists are becoming hospitalists? How many pcps are being dropped from insurance panels as insurers respond to health care reform? How many physicians are refusing to take the new exchange coverage? And how many aging doctors are choosing retirement over meaningful use?

Marriages are being dissolved.

Relationships are being broken.

Who is paying the ultimate price?


jimbo26 said...

The patient is paying the ultimate price . When medicine became payable , the patient lost out .

Unknown said...

We all are, but yes, mostly the patients.

Anonymous said...

I so understand your post. I am an RN and also a pt waiting for a liver transplant from Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I know what it is to be the medical professional who truly cares for her pt.
Also, I am the pt who has built a close relationship with a doctor who has answered my phone call in the middle of the night to his personal cell phone we I was afraid that the ER doc didn't want to bother him in the middle of the night,yet had never treated anyone with my disease.
Who has held my hand for the last 6 years, who has left his family during a holiday to care for me when I went into acute liver failure and it didn't look like I was going to live.

We have shared tears, laughter,disagreements. Now my insurance is changing and telling me who I can be "married" to. Trust is priceless. Trust cost everything and I am wondering if it is going to cost me a doctor who really knows my situation, which may end up costing me my life.