O Western Medicine…What Have We Done?

We’ve gone too long with this faulted and fragmented system. We’ve failed to listen to our patients because of a highly legislated, bureaucratized, and overly business’d system that has worn down our providers forcing submission to the system or withdrawal. We’ve failed to educate our health care providers correctly, teaching body systems as if there were only minimal connections between them leading to societal mis-conceptions of pain, aging, and the power of the mind and brain.

Recently, I read two impactful articles. The articles, Doctors Tell All–and It’s Bad from The Atlantic and What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-set from The New York Times, echo these sentiments…and they hammer them home. You need to read them now. Even if you don’t read the rest of this post.

Seriously, read them.

We spend $2.8 trillion on healthcare each year (17% of our GDP). Our administrative costs are nearly $218 billion a year. That’s $218 BILLION a year on services unrelated to direct care of patients. My guess is all of the vertically integrated health care systems, but its probably also linked to the excessive legislative requirements on documentation, billing, and all other sorts of…administration? I don’t know… How else do you explain this: administration


And what do we have to show for it? A middle of the road outcome. Life expectancy in the US is 79 yrs, ranked in the 34th among industrialized nations. Maybe it’s all necessary because of stories like this…After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill from Doctor He didn’t Know.  Again, I don’t know.

To exacerbate this problem, we have such mis-information spread about in the public/societal/media realms about disease, pathology, miracle cures, you name it–that it seems we’ll never have enough time or focus to solve one issue over the other. Dr. Oz has been on congressional trial for the claims he’s made on his national stage, and yet he still seems to present only partial bits of information. We have an national insurance commercial talking about “slipped discs,” whatever that is? Intervertebral discs do not slip and we need to get away from that kind of euphemism, both in health care and health insurance. This is something called “belief reinforcement” and it happens way too much. The late Max Zusman wrote about this in the article: Belief reinforcement; one reason why costs for low back pain have not decreased. Which is another must read for any PT who wants to further their understanding of the roll his/her language, behavior, and patient/practitioner interaction plays into societal misconceptions about pain, the body, and aging.

I really have no clue where I’m going with this, but I think that’s because I have no clue how something (health care) could get so disastrously messed up when it was created from a foundational principle of altruism. Or am I wrong? Was health care always meant to be a business?

When I stop and think about all of this…it doesn’t make me contemplate my decision to enter the health care field (i.e. wanting to help people), but it certainly does make me wonder about the possibility of a future within such a field.

When will the change that’s needed happen? When will it begin to change?

Can it change?


3 thoughts on “O Western Medicine…What Have We Done?

  1. Pingback: A Year in Review | PTbraintrust

  2. Pingback: Who is Satisfied? | PTbraintrust

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