“Help, I need somebody! Help, not just anybody! Help, you know I need someone, help!” –Help!, The Beatles
“We are all here on earth to help each other; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” – W. H. Auden
“Help the doctor!”
I’m sure most surgeons have heard this exasperated statement at some point in the operating room. It is said with that special mix of frustration, irritation, and sarcasm, usually when things aren’t going smoothly. When there is fumbling or bumbling, when the assistance, the systems, the help are failing, breaking down.
That same emotional mix is permeating medicine; this statement of exasperation could well be the new rallying cry for physicians.
Since I have started to write, and to post to this blog, I have also started to read even more of the blogs out there, primarily the medical writing. Part of writing is reading. As I write about the subjects and issues and events that touch my professional life, I have noticed that many of the same are on the minds of my colleagues. They likewise broadcast their thoughts to the universe. I am conflicted, I confess. I don’t know whether I feel a tinge of disappointment that my observations and epiphanies are not so singular or earth-shattering, being shared by others; or vindicated, to see so many with similar experiences leading them to similar observations and conclusions. We each are unique, though, with slightly different angles as we approach the topics, like the facets on a diamond. But, we are all on the same gemstones, and like the facets, reflecting more light, illuminating the stone. So I will claim my facet on the gem, and hope to illuminate. I add my voice to the chorus.
One thing that shines through so clearly to me as I read, as I go to medical meetings, or even attend any gathering involving two or more physicians, is the general sense of frustration. It touches all doctors, regardless of specialty, employment status, or even level of training or experience.
It comes as no news to observe that our capital-S System is broken, and that our lowercase-s systems are failing us. I think that the root of the problems with both share a common underlying cause.
These systems no longer help the doctor. Continue reading