Doctors Are Always Targets


The NY Times Op-Ed article entitled, “Doctor, Shut Up and Listen” was another potshot at physicians.  Even the title told you what was coming.  Before I even read it, I surmised that this piece was about doctors rushing patients and missing things. And I was right.  Do you know how I knew?  Because the system is broken and the hospitals and administrators are forcing too many patients onto the doctors’ schedules and asking them to do ridiculous metrics that mean nothing.  So, this article, where doctors don’t communicate well, is supposed to be enlightening?

Here are some highlights from this turkey shoot:

  • Asked why she hadn’t mentioned this information before, she said she’d “never been asked.” Until then, her providers would sooner order tests than take the time to talk with her about the problem.
  • A review of reports by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that provides accreditation to health care organizations, found that communication failure (rather than a provider’s lack of technical skill) was at the root of over 70 percent of serious adverse health outcomes in hospitals
  • Over the next two years, patient satisfaction with doctors, as measured by a standard questionnaire, moved the hospital’s predicted score up in national rankings by a remarkable 40 percentile points.
  • I realize that many colleagues may see methods like ours as too intrusive on their clinical practice and may say that they don’t have the time. But we need to move away from the perception that social skills and better communication are a kind of optional extra for doctors. A good bedside manner is simply good medicine

The article mentions the Joint Commission, satisfaction surveys, a physician-training program and so many administralian words that it is quite obvious who wrote this piece of crap.  You guessed it, an administrator!  Nirmal Joshi is the chief medical officer for Pinnacle Health System.

Do I think doctors should be better communicators?  Hell, yeah!  But we need time.  We need less patients.  End of story.  Administrators cannot bend reality just because they want to.   They can create all the new programs they want.  They can hire as many LELTs as they want.  It doesn’t matter.  The truth is that there are too many administrators and not enough doctors.  The wrong people are in charge of the healthcare system.


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