Sunday, July 6, 2008

Anonymous

I am writing anonymously for several reasons. My purpose is to talk about the way our healthcare system works on a human level. To give an accurate and honest account is to invite hard questions – “Why did you do that? Why didn’t you stand up against that?” It is difficult for people outside of the healthcare system to understand the full context and circumstances under which our decisions are made and it would be very easy to jump to condemnation. It is not my intention to expose my coworkers to this condemnation. There is great wrongness in the healthcare system and, from my perspective, I see that much harm is being perpetrated in the name of offering the highest standards of care. This is what impels me to write, even though I see that there is personal risk for me in doing so. This is what I am trying to write about. I have worked in several different hospitals and dozens of different units. While each has their own strengths and weaknesses, the situation is the same everywhere. Just because the kinds of things I am writing about are not generally discussed does not mean that the stories I am telling are exceptional. I am intentionally writing about the typical. I have not found any evil actors. The people I work with are generally caring and concerned for the patients. I may disagree with them in attitude and perspective, but I see that we are all more or less helplessly serving a system which is essentially broken and brutal. There is no real opportunity for any individual, whether he is the biggest doctor or the smallest nurse, to stand up and effect a major change. We often feel that we do not have enough love and compassion to properly perform our jobs. So much is expected and demanded of us and we are certainly lacking. In maintaining the bogus fa├žade, we cut corners, make bad decisions and errors and we hide them most of the time because we know the outside world does not understand how bad it is. We know they do not realize how unnatural it all is, how vulnerable they are and how difficult it is to protect them on this path. Here lies the disconnect, the double life. We are so accustomed to the basic deception and take it so much for granted that we have lost the capacity to tell our patient’s stories to the people in general. The stories that do escape are generally carefully selected and highly sanitized.

Fear of death sells even better than sex. We, as a society, have agreed to be the uneducated consumers. Business men provide us with newer, more expensive products to consume- that is their livelihood. Societal values give them an open field. It is these values and our negligent ignorance which causes things to remain as they are. I am endeavoring to shed light on this world not so that the first doctor who walks by can be dragged off to judgment, but so that we can each look at ourselves and question our own participation in the system. If our eyes are open, we can make better choices. Death is ever victorious. We will not do well for ourselves if we are not able to face this truth.

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