The medical community acknowledges that many doctors need to improve the level of their care. Doctors and nurses will be the first ones to tell you that you or a loved one needs to be an advocate when you are sick.See, When Doctor's Don't Listen, by Leana Wen, M.D. This is necessary to ensure that mistakes are minimized, and you get the care you deserve.
The majority of physicians are caring and conscientious. There are, however, some physicians who are not. Those doctor's that require additional skills or improvement in their decision making abilities, in a perfect world, would go out and get this necessary training. As we know, this is far from a perfect world. As a result, this minority of physicians continues to provide care that can be noneffective at best and dangerous at worst.
Dr. Wen's solution to this concern is physician training. Improving Medical Care Needs to Involve the Doctor. She suggests that over time, by providing good training at an early point in the doctor's education, new doctors will obtain the necessary skills to listen and reasonably treat their patients. As she acknowledges, this will "take a long time." In the meantime, she recommends that every patient be an advocate for their own health.
Dr. Wen fails to recognize, however, that there is another powerful tool that can be a dramatic force for change -- the legal system. As a lawyer that represented Tucson doctors in malpractice cases for many years, I can tell you that a Tucson medical malpractice suit gets the doctor's immediate and lasting attention. It causes them to evaluate at their care in a way that many of them have never done. Moreover, as a result of the legal process, the doctor or hospital receives a frank assessment of the care provided, not only from the other side's expert but from their own.
This experience is a shocking wake up call to many physicians. Where indicated, it forces them to take steps, by it better history taking, documentation, patient communication, and/or decision making to improve their overall level of patient care. As a result, long term good occurs not only to the individual doctor, but all those who he or she come in contact with.
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