Your Doctor is Rude? Maybe this is Why

by | Nov 21, 2011 | POLITICS

According to Psychology Today Online, physician meltdown is on the rise. When surveyed by the American College of Physician Executives, one-third of health care facility administrators reported disruptive incidents among their physician colleagues at least once a month at their clinics and hospitals. Typical targets: nurses, physician assistants and other support personnel. It’s unclear whether […]

According to Psychology Today Online, physician meltdown is on the rise.

When surveyed by the American College of Physician Executives, one-third of health care facility administrators reported disruptive incidents among their physician colleagues at least once a month at their clinics and hospitals. Typical targets: nurses, physician assistants and other support personnel.

It’s unclear whether “M.D. meltdown” has increased in recent years, but Timothy Keogh, a health care management professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, thinks so, citing stressors like rising patient loads, declining reimbursement and the pressure-cooker ambience of operating and emergency rooms.

Gee, do you think so?

Did it ever occur to anyone, before getting an official Tulune University scholar involved, that it doesn’t make sense to treat doctors poorly? And that, if you do treat doctors poorly, then you—the patient—will inevitably pay the consequences? Even with your life and your health?

I know that a lot of you are thinking, “I don’t treat my doctor poorly.

What in the world are you talking about?”

Believe it or not, millions of Americans do treat their doctors poorly, without even realizing it.

For example: Demanding (through your representatives) “free” health care for all, without reference to the rights, needs or requirements of doctors to work outside of a government-controlled system. Not all Americans demand free health care for all, but about half do by voting for candidates who support it. Considerably more than half support Medicare, which essentially forces doctors to treat the elderly within a government system. ObamaCare is unpopular because people perceive it as threatening access to health care as a right, not because of its socialistic content. Plus, ObamaCare is not unpopular enough to stop at least half of the population from probably voting to reelect the socialist Obama next year.

Another example: Demanding continuing “free” health care for senior citizens, which all Democrats and virtually all Republicans support in the form of Medicare. I’m not implying that people who were forced to finance a Medicare system should now suddenly be dropped from it if they are over 65; but shouldn’t this bankrupt program be called the failure it is and be phased out for future generations? What has Medicare done for doctors, who face increasingly lower reimbursement rates, increasingly higher levels of bureaucratic idiocy, and millions of seniors who expect treatment as a right rather than a service in the marketplace? Medicare is simply socialized medicine for the elderly. All the dysfunction with Medicare is the very same dysfunction rampant in totally socialized systems such as Canada and Western Europe. Medicare is one of the single biggest expenses in the federal budget, a budget so out of control that the American credit rating sank for the first time in American history. Cuts are coming to doctors under Medicare as ObamaCare takes effect, cuts which WILL have an impact on patient care.

Government, in the end, does what it wants with Medicare because it’s a government program. Is it all worth it?

The major point here is deeper than politics. It has to do with human psychology and human ethics. Put simply, doctors suffer when they are forced to treat patients without any reference to themselves—i.e., as a moral right or “entitlement.” This is the attitude underlying more and more of the medical field today.

It goes like this: “Health care is a right. I have a right to care from my doctor.” Imagine if you approached your house painter this way. Or your car mechanic. Or your accountant.

Imagine if the government passed a law stating that people are, by moral right, entitled to the services of accountants, mechanics or house painters. Do you think people in these professions would become more stressed or less stressed? More resentful or less resentful?

What would you feel like if the government declared that your services were owed to the community whether members of the community could afford them or not? Wouldn’t you feel at least a little bit like a slave? Don’t you think your doctor (after years of schooling and effort) feels the same way?

There’s another side to this as well. On the one hand, doctors are told that they owe their services to the world whether the world can afford them or not. This creates resentment. On the other hand, doctors are reimbursed for their services through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid whether they provide high-quality care or not.

“High quality” implies things like kindness and consideration for the patient. Some doctors will be this way no matter what, but more of them will not act this way if they know they’re going to be paid no matter what. Medicare, in particular, causes more seniors to show up in a doctor’s office than would otherwise be the case, if the care weren’t “free.” Consequently, doctor’s offices flood with patients. Doctors know they have too many patients and they know they will always have too many patients no matter what. There’s little or no incentive to provide high-quality care, other than to avoid obvious malpractice. But you can’t be sued for being arrogant, uncommunicative or even outright rude.

These are the kinds of situations our partially socialized health care “system” has created. Socialized medicine—“Medicare for all,” which is really the thrust of ObamaCare, through its effort to paralyze what’s left of market conditions in medicine—will simply make the problem even worse. You’ll be begging for the managed care of the 1990s once the federal bureaucracy in Washington, DC becomes one big, bungling, gigantic HMO.

Everything has a cost. “Free” medicine is costly because of what it does to doctors and the doctor-patient relationship.

The entitlement mentality, fostered and legislated by the government for decades, is ruining health care. I hear stories of it every day, from retired people and others who spend a lot of time at the doctor. I have almost developed a subspecialty of psychotherapy clients who are dissatisfied with their doctors and need to talk about it. In short, their doctors simply aren’t nice, professional or (in a few cases) even minimally competent. These recent studies are confirming what I see all the time on a wider scale. If you want to see what’s really happening to medical care in this country, talk to the elderly and the sick. They already experience socialized medicine.

If you want better doctors, who treat you as an individual, don’t support more and more socialized medicine. Support less. Don’t merely support the repeal of ObamaCare; support the establishment of a totally free market. Don’t let politicians get away with using words like “access” and “coverage” to hide the fact they’re talking about socialism, Big Government and compulsion.

Don’t treat your doctors like they are your slaves, and don’t let your elected representatives get away with it either. Don’t encourage your doctors to work for the government. Encourage them to work for you, and for themselves. Stand up for the idea of contracts between doctor and patient, not between doctor and government.

Government involvement in medicine is a disaster every step of the way.

The only way to make doctors nicer, more professional and less arrogant is to get rid of the mentality—and policies—that are creating the current physician meltdown.

Source: “Doctors Behaving Very Badly,” by Carl Sherman, Psychology Today Online.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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