A major problem we have in pediatrics, I was told one time, “is that we have raised a generation of grandmothers who have never even seen measles.”
The gentleman I was speaking with is a pediatric colleague of mine, and we were discussing the way grandparents and others provide a great deal of teaching to new parents as they raise their first few children. And a grandma who has actually seen a case of measles is a rare find.
I believe what my colleague said is true! Medicine has changed a great deal in even the past few years. Rubella and other diseases are not seen as much any more.
But there are other illnesses that have taken their place, and it’s even becoming harder to be a good “medical consumer”.
While a decrease in the expertise of grandparents may be a problem, it is definitely not the whole problem. Obtaining good, quality, up-to-date, as well as cost-effective, medical care is not an easy task.
If grandparents are not able to assist as much these days, then who or what do people turn to?
Unfortunately, an increasing amount of medical advice is being obtained from soap operas on television, movies, sensationalized newspaper and magazine articles, and even advertisements. Hardly what you would call “expert” sources.
Think about it the next time you watch M.A.S.H., Trauma Center, General Hospital, a cold remedy commercial, etc.
In addition, there are many other new aspects not even thought about a few years ago; for example, all of the changing insurance requirements and demands, and more delivery systems managed by non-physician entrepreneur businessmen.
In addition there is increased “meddling” by governmental bureaucrats; mis-distribution of physicians; increasing specialization; exploding technology; and burgeoning numbers of disrupted family situations with resultant dependency on welfare systems.
Yes, all of these are problems; but the fact remains that the United States has the highest quality medical care of anywhere in the world. Think about it.
The vast majority of the world’ s inhabitants live where they have less access to; a more limited amount of; less up-to-date medical care and facilities.
Ask anyone who has been to Russia, China, most of Europe, and in many respects even England and Canada.
Now, I am right in the middle of it – this changing system; and I know for a fact that there are inequities and problems.
Nearly every aspect of medicine is under scrutiny; not just physician/hospital reimbursement, but also your rights as patients.
There are already types of insurances requiring “preauthorization” from headquarters for certain medical procedures.
Physicians are more frequently found in positions that test their professional integrity when making decisions between patient advocacy and pressures from insurance companies and hospitals.
There are articles nearly every month in medical literature about how we should “ration medical care”, the upcoming “doctor glut”, how to “compete” for patients and other related topics.
Changes are coming. My colleagues and I are helping to make some of them and desperately trying to prevent others.
In all the change, however, I believe that we must begin with the basic evaluation of our system “judged by its fruits," …a great one.
And in advocating changes we should keep as our underlying premise one of our physician’ s mottoes Primum Non Nocere "First, do no harm.”
On occasion in this column (amidst medical articles) I will give you an “inside” view of the medical care system and, in a positive way, describe how you can use it to your advantage.