As a family care physician, Dr. John McCarthy will, over the course of visits during your life, tell you a few words you don’t want to hear. You probably shouldn’t go tanning. You’re overweight. You should eat vegetables, exercise more.
Primary-care physician Donald Condon had served Medicare patients for more than 30 years in Spokane. But last September, he decided to “opt out” of Medicare. All his Medicare patients — about 800 of them — had to find new doctors.
Lauri Costello, a family practice physician in Spokane, was already frustrated with the world of medicine. She was irked by the red tape and bureaucracy and dealing with insurance companies. Then a patient sued her practice.
For most people, outpatient surgery means a quick medical procedure that allows the recently-operated-upon to recuperate at home instead of enduring a hospital stay. But more and more often, outpatient surgeries are being performed in doctor’s offices, instead of hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.
For patients, it’s a common complaint: You wait in the waiting room, you wait in the doctor’s office and, when the doctor finally arrives, it’s a five-minute visit and she’s gone. That frustrates doctors, too.
Most people think doctors have it all — great careers, busy offices, money for vacations and cars. But here’s a surprising fact: After 10 years in practice, 17 percent of general internists will have left their field.
The idea for this issue’s cover story came from casual chats and e-mails with doctor friends and neighbors about their profession. I was kind of surprised to hear so much frustration and even sadness as they talked about their jobs.