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Why I Don’t Trust the Medical System

After dragging my feet for more than half a decade, I begrudgingly made a clinic appointment for a physical this year. Checking in and talking with a nurse, I then waited alone in the doctor’s examination room, daring to pull down my mandated mask.

But then the doctor entered—wearing a pin listing her pronouns—and she asked me to pull that mask right back up. However, she later asked me to remove it to check my throat and mouth, leaving me to wonder if she could see the ridiculousness of the situation.

My experience in that examination room didn’t do much to boost the already slim trust I have in the medical system. That trust has been eroded over the past several years, and these days, a broken bone, cancer, or something immediately life-threatening are the only ailments I would turn to a hospital with for treatment. For any non-emergency medical problem, I fully expect to receive a misdiagnosis—if any diagnosis—and a bottle of pills on the way out of the doctor’s office.

I’m not alone in my cynical perceptions. In 2022, only 38 percent of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the medical system, according to a Gallup poll. Another 38 percent of Americans had “some” confidence in the medical system, and nearly one quarter of the population had “very little” confidence in the medical system.

Why is it that 62 percent of Americans have only some or little confidence in the medical system? One possible reason is misdiagnosis. Around 12 million patients are misdiagnosed in the U.S. every year, based on a 2014 estimate. And even if a misdiagnosis is not deadly, it wastes both the patient’s and hospital’s time and resources.

Another potential reason is that the first solution to every medical ailment is to prescribe some variety of drug. Forty-two percent of 65-year-olds and older in America are on at least five medications, according to a 2019 report.

But older Americans aren’t the only ones on more drugs than they need. Do you remember the days when kids were told to run around outside to burn off energy? Truly, it’s not reasonable to think that children can sit still behind a desk for hours each day. But rather than address the feminization of education, we diagnose rowdy children with ADHD and drug them into submission.

A similar example can be found with depression. The decades-old chemical imbalance explanation of depression was recently debunked, yet 1 in every 10 Americans continue taking antidepressants based on this misunderstanding of where depression comes from.

My clinic visit signals another reason why Americans may mistrust the medical system: politics. The pronoun pin on my doctor’s lanyard announced her political ideology. “Look at me!” it essentially said. “I think the right think.” I don’t need politics in my doctor’s office. Conveniently, many of the women who screamed they didn’t want the government in their wombs are fine with their politics in the doctor’s office.

More than that, the pin signaled that this doctor thought that gender was some sort of social construct and that there’s not a strong psychological element to your sex. Basic biology—and casual observations about reality—show that the differences between men and women are more than their reproductive organs. And if my doctor doesn’t ascribe to basic biology, can I really trust her medical opinion?

These are just a few examples, but the crowning jewel of the medical system’s failure is the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Anthony Fauci declared, “Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.” Science used to refer to the scientific method—a process for studying the world around us—rather than one man or the set of ideas approved by the elite.

Additionally, with big pharma representing 75 percent of television advertising spending in 2020, the mainstream media gave glowing coverage pushing specific drug treatments for COVID (the COVID vaccines). Add in the fact that these treatments were—and are—mandated, despite their experimental status, and it’s no wonder why many are hesitant to trust the medical system.

All of this is very doom and gloom, but there is a silver lining: You as a patient have never had more access to medical information to make informed decisions. We live in a golden age of information when many medical sources and journals are publicly accessible. Many of the sources that doctors are reading are available for you to critically assess.

We can demand better from our doctors. While I don’t doubt there are fantastic doctors out there, they seem to be increasingly few and far between. It’s up to us to be informed participants in our healthcare decisions, ready and willing to advocate for ourselves. And at the end of the day, the best things we all can do are also the simplest: Eat healthy, exercise, and get some fresh air.

Image credit: Flickr-Nenad Stojkovic, CC BY 2.0.

ITO

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  • Avatar
    Charles Foulks
    October 26, 2022, 9:14 pm

    Amen. As a retired physician (Class of ’75), I was taught by and modeled my physician teachers. We were to be patient advocates under all circumstances, not the medical center’s advocate. We were to know the medical/surgical fields of the consultants we used, since we were personally responsible for their actions or inactions. We were taught to critically read the medical literature to maintain an up-to-date fund of knowledge. We knew resources to which we directed our patients and we listened to their sources. A well-informed patient is more likely to engage with a therapeutic plan that you’ve both developed. We knew that it was ok to say "I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’ll find out or I’ll find someone who will know. I won’t leave you." We met in the doctor’s lounge over coffee to discuss difficult clinical problems. We were always there to consult and assist each other. We worked with our nurses and depended upon their advice and observations to care for our patients since we were a team. We also learned very early that the fields of PT, OT, Social Work, RT, etc., were invaluable in restoring our patients’ health and we practiced with them. Today, medical students and residents suffer under DEI, gender-affirming care, gender identify, social justice warrior crusades, pressure to obtain a concommitant master’s degree, inclusiveness and horizontal structures with no rank and one in charge. If all the sailors on the ship are equal, the ship goes in circles if it moves at all. Residents engage in shift work and when they leave, they are gone (the students notice this and accept it as "this is how it’s done"). No one owns the patient. Some retired physicians and I meet for coffee occasionally and we have come to the conclusion that there will be no one there to take care of us. We, jokingly, suggested that we form our own clinical group and we would take care of each other. Not a bad idea at all. Certainly, some young doctors are doing it right, but their medical schools are turning out social justice warriors and not physicians; public health workers and not physicians; automatons slaved to protocols. Every patient is unique and what is good for one may not bet good for another. Medical care is like a political truth: All medical care is local: betweent the doctor and the patient. It is not between the medical center and the patient. Doctors need to stand up for their patients, remembering their loyalty is to the patient. If the medical center says otherwise, run for the exit. Our established health care system and systems are not serving us well and it will get worse. Should health care sytems be businesses with a CEO who has a 7-8 figure salary while nurses are forced to work with staffing ratios that do not allow personalized and safe care? I don’t think so. It is time for medical systems to be owned locally and regionally.

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    • Avatar
      Bud Sage@Charles Foulks
      October 26, 2022, 9:34 pm

      And doctors should stop signing contracts with insurance companies. This would put the doctor back in charge, and keep insurance companies from getting my records.

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    • Avatar
      Tionico@Charles Foulks
      October 27, 2022, 12:05 am

      I know a couple of docs who have bailed on the system you ldescrive which has replaced the "traditional" care standards. No insurance companies, team concept, direct patient-provider relationship. They are now able to truly use their skills, far more efficiend, spend about a third of the time they used to on silly paperwork, are not pressured to throw drugs at them… most of these folks are in their forties, fifties, and Dee Oh Enn Eee with the old system,

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    • Avatar
      Margaret Owen Thorpe@Charles Foulks
      October 27, 2022, 3:57 am

      Amen to both Jordan Alexander and to Dr. Foulks. I will try to tell this cautionary, current, and totally true story that supports Alexander’s case briefly. I do a lot of work with companies developing and researching new medical advances. About 5 years ago, I started having problems with my feet; they looked and felt swollen and painful. I went to the doc; she said "you have neuropathy" and promptly prescribed Gabapentin. I googled it for side effects, and the first thing it said was "brain fog". My brain is how I earn a living; it is also the one part of my body that works very well. I said, "Nope – not filling that prescription". Went to a different doc; she said, "Maybe it’s plantar fasciitis, and sent me for orthotic shoes."

      One day I was surfing medical publications, and I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the words "drug-induced pedal edema". Client’s work would have to wait! Read the edema article! Found out that the medication I’d been prescribed and had been taking for over a year because my blood pressure was higher than the benchmarks was causing the foot problem. Now, blood pressure meds are given to just about everybody over 55 because "we might have a heart attack or a stroke". But now I’ve got a foot problem that still has not gone away after a year of not taking the drug – and it prevents me from walking and exercising the way I used to. Morals of story: 1) read medical journals and bulletins even if you don’t get paid for doing so; 2) question everything – and I mean everything – the medical cartel says; 3) if your gut or your brain says don’t take that stuff, don’t take it; 4) taking drugs because something "might" happen is futile. Something is going to get every one of us in the end. As I told the doc, "Something sooner or later gets everybody; we haven’t seen any ancient Romans walking around in togas lately, after all."

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      • Avatar
        Bud Sage@Margaret Owen Thorpe
        October 27, 2022, 5:44 pm

        Seems you may have misdiagnosed yourself. Just because a possible side effect is swollen feet, doesn’t mean it WILL cause them to swell. You’ve given yourself a year of a trial, without success. Maybe time to see a trained professional. BTW, it seems if you had seen a doctor a year ago who told you the swelling was from the medicine, and a year later you weren’t better, you’d be on here running them down too. Good luck!

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  • Avatar
    Bud Sage
    October 26, 2022, 9:27 pm

    While I could agree with some of your ramblings, you paint with too broad of a brush, and you don’t even include yourself. About 1996, the Clintons ushered Managed Care into our lives, and people like you cheered. “Insurance companies will stop all of the unnecessary procedures, save money, and pass the savings on to you!” The unnecessary procedure count was as phony as your misdiagnosis data. In 1999, United Health group did an internal study, and learned that their “preauthorization process” cost them $100 million/year (about what they were paying their CEO), and they were authorizing 99.9% of procedures. When they had to look at necessity up front, and not after the fact from their chair, they found almost none. They scrapped the program. The secondary effects are insurance run medical care, report cards for doctors who don’t comply, and a less-competitive pool of Med School applicants. And BTW, the whole “pass the savings on to you” nonsense was just that. I know I shop at Wal Mart, but despite making record profits, they never send me a check. My Dr doesn’t wear a pronoun pin, and I wouldn’t go to one who did. My preferred pronouns, though, are “his majesty” and “your royal highness”.

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    • Avatar
      Margaret Owen Thorpe@Bud Sage
      October 27, 2022, 4:14 am

      Well, Bud Sage, I am glad to hear that my old employer, UnitedHealth, is still questioning conventional wisdom; maybe there is hope, after all. When I worked there in the late 80s, it was a little bitty start-up, and we all believed we could save health care from itself and from the government. The rose-colored glasses of youth….Surprise! It wasn’t the Clintons who ushered in managed care; it was Richard Nixon! Check out the 1974 HMO Act; back then, it was the Republican alternative to Ted Kennedy’s proposed "Medicare for All", except it wasn’t called that then. That 1974 Act started the shift of health care from physicians to national corporations; UnitedHealth was originally an attempt to keep physicians in charge while managing the bureaucracy for them.

      BTW, I’m totally with you on the pronouns; if my doc wears one of those buttons, I’ll be right behind you seeking a new doc. I was at a meeting a few months back and was asked what my pronouns were. I said, "I, me, and mine."

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  • Avatar
    11bravo
    October 27, 2022, 3:41 am

    Talk about sending "it" in. Where is the beef?

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  • Avatar
    Dave Oslin
    October 27, 2022, 3:01 pm

    Too much broad brushing. Sorry you’ve had bad experiences. My wife and I both have serious medical conditions and I’m happy to say that the experiences we have both had have been for the most part outstanding. Of course we are seniors on Medicare with very affordable supplemental insurance. I just wonder why you didn’t leave when your doctor with her visible political statements walked in the room. I certainly would have.

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  • Avatar
    Linda
    October 27, 2022, 3:32 pm

    Great article and I agree with it completely, but you forgot along with the depression they also lied about Alzheimer’s. They altered photographs and God knows what else in the primary study that said it was caused by brain plaques. All the consequential medications were based on that false study.

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