Thursday, March 25, 2010

Doctors are only as good as the environment around them

Maggie Mahar digested a new report on the abusive, unprofessional state of current medical education. She used the word shocking, but reading the quoted examples I could not feel more at home - for every outrageous finding that was mentioned, I have a personal anecdote for it.

Health care really is a weird, alternate universe where people can do nasty things that will never be ok out on the streets and get away with it. Surgeons often throw sharp instruments in the OR out of anger, many times at other human beings - can you imagine a mechanic throwing a wrench at their colleagues out of anger? Sadly, the former example fails to raise any eyebrows, and the most interesting phenomenon I've ever witnessed is how fast the foul mood trickles down in an OR. The pecking order goes from surgeons --> scrub nurses --> medical students, and soon enough everyone makes mistake out of fear and anger.

Under abusive environment, I notice I fail to accomplish tasks that I have previously mastered, and under nurturing environment, I can complete procedures I've never even seen. Doctors, like any worker in other industries, are really as good as the environment around them, and when people's lives are at stake, it is so important that health care professionals learn to be nice to one another. Instead of criticizing others for stupid consults, we can educate them when consults are warranted. Instead of labeling patients as non-compliant, we can try to sympathize with the myriad of reasons why people continue to be overweight and diabetic in this country.

For readers in the health care profession, I know this is old news, but let's make it not so.

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