My latest read One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine was written by an internist turned hospitalist, Dr. Brendan Reilly. He explores the reality and challenges of being a physician, caring for patients and the healthcare delivery system. He describes the struggles, from his perspective as a physician, and the challenges of reducing costs and improving care.
Dr. Reilly also shares his insight into the complexities of "medical errors", the delicate balance of advocating for the patient and what is right for society, and shares specific reasons why we should all care about end-of-life planning -- especially our own. He gives readers some insight into medical education and the symbiotic relationship of traditionally trained physicians and those being prepared for the future in medicine today.
Medicine is truly both an art and a science and this story provides real-life examples of how difficult the decision making processes can be for both the physicians and the patient and their family caregivers. It explores how the relationships between physicians and patients must be strong enough to tolerate ambiguity.
He also describes, as I too have seen, how healthcare is and has been rationed - on a daily basis - in hospital's and clinics. I agree with him that Americans need to start talking and finding rational, ethical and democratic ways to set limits on medical care. We can't sustain the current path and budgets and partisanship can't fix this. We, as consumers and caregivers, need to become more educated on end-of-life care, have open and honest conversations with our families and physicians, and clearly document the care that we want and don't want before it is too late.... and the decisions are driven by hospital policy, physicians who may not really know us or emotional family struggling with making the "right" decision on our behalf.