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. Oh, and you should take these pills every six hours.
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, according to findings from the American Board of Physicians and the American Board of Internal Medicine.
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. Office-based surgeries are the fastest-growing segment of outpatient surgeries. Because of this unprecedented growth, they’re also the least regulated.
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 — a woman who’d had a stroke — sued her practice. Thanks to a gag clause, she says she can’t get into the details.
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, says Tom Schaaf, a family practice doctor with Group Health in Spokane.
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. One e-mailed, “At times I feel like a Third World country exploited for its natural resources, indentured with debt loaned with the promise of realizing the American dream.” Many of them, dedicated though they are to their profession, said they probably wouldn’t choose to go into medicine if they had to do it all over — and they surely won’t advise their children to follow in their footsteps.
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