Western medicine certainly has its benefits for major medical needs such as the repair of broken limbs, managing birth complications and performing open-heart surgery. Also for those suffering from an obvious problem like a stab wound, a dog bite or severe burns, western medicine comes to the aid. However for the day-to-day management and treatment of the majority of people’s ailments, western medicine fails miserably.
There no doubt was a time before the current era where health management was proactively focussed, when doctors built relationships with their patients and took the time to care. Currently though many doctors work at the other end of the spectrum, patients become part of a humanised cattle call with health care priced beyond reach and doctor’s attitudes leading to the lazy reactive management of patients.
Consultation fees are generally subject to a tiered pricing structure which seems to be geared more towards lining the wallets of medical practitioners rather than providing value for money for patients. The first bracket normally expires 5 minutes into the consultation and runs around the $40 mark, the next consultation bracket normally runs to about the 20-30 minute mark and this will set patients back around $55-60. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad if patients actually received some level of service for this fee. But the sad reality is that patients are often barely acknowledged and leave without any level of satisfaction that they have received an appropriate consultation and at least an attempt at finding a solution to what ails them.
This is especially the case when patients have no choice but to see a different doctor. The majority of the consultation time is spent in entering rudimentary personal history information which often has little bearing on the problem at hand. This seems to be in an effort to complete a surgery’s computer records rather than a genuine way to find out more about a patient. The first thing they do is to quickly run through issues like height, weight, knowledge of family history, question about allergies, and marital status. The doctor will then often move to a very basic examination regardless of the problem which will include checking ears, throat, breathing and sometimes circulation. For women, there are further delights to experience. Regardless of the ailment, the symptoms or the level of information provided by the patient, doctors ask the question that must be like a Holy Grail catch-all question for them – ‘Are you pregnant?’. At this point even if an answer is given in the negative the doctor never ever trusts the patient. They may nod and you may think you’ve won, but don’t be fooled, that would be too logical.
Normally further questions arise depending on how you answered the previous marital status question. ‘Is there any chance you could be pregnant?’ ‘What contraception are you using?’ ‘Are you trying for a baby?’ ‘Are you sure you’re not pregnant?’ Gee it really makes me trust a medical practitioner who had to study for many years to attain the title of doctor only then to end up not listening to their patients.
Once you survive this particular line of questioning, you are still unlikely to have convinced the doctor that you are indeed not with child. You’ll then be subjected to a basic physical examination which is used to confirm whether in fact you have been lying all along and you are actually pregnant. Honestly if a patient thought they were pregnant they are pretty likely to share that information up front.
After all this you may just be lucky enough to be asked what you are actually there to discuss, but often this brings little relief. Either they are not listening, don’t care or just prefer the sound of their own voice, it is difficult to determine. Even when presented with something that should pique their interest such as fainting spells or rapid heartbeat, this is often brushed aside unless the patient clutches at their chest in agony or collapses on the floor. Then I guess they can’t fail to notice the symptoms. Another difficulty can be encountered when presenting a mysterious or odd problem which cannot be readily linked to the medical profession’s pre-defined ideas about what can and what can’t be a disease or medical condition (in other words what can and can’t be readily searched on their computers).
Even trying to get a solution from different doctors based on the same symptoms, patients can be greeted with a scratching of the head, a shrug of the shoulders or a blank expression. Particularly impressive is when the response is, ‘Haven’t seen or heard of something like that before’, or something similarly useful in nature. Regardless of the sub-standard examination and assessment, the result is often that patients are hurried out the door, generally just after the first pricing bracket is passed. If the doctor is feeling particularly helpful they may just recommend some pathology tests, perhaps in an effort to make them feel they’ve added value in some way.
On a special few occasions patients may be treated to the special GP pop psychology session. You may be blessed with pearls of wisdom like ‘There are plenty of people worse off then you’, ‘Don’t stress about things’, ‘Leave work at work’, ‘Don’t read magazines and books in bed’, ‘Don’t have conversations in bed’, ‘Leave bed for sleeping alone’ (which kind of works against the whole baby making epidemic which doctors seems convinced of), ‘Eat bananas and drink milk and eat cheese – very good for the brain’, ‘If you can mix the banana and milk together that’s even better’, ‘It’s the quality of the sleep not the quantity’, ‘Perhaps get an eye mask to block out light’, ‘Don’t worry about interest rates and associated things’, ‘Perhaps you’re just lonely’, ‘I’m not saying for sure just telling you generally’ …. ‘Let me see what else can I tell you?’ (Yes please tell me more doctor, enlighten my mind)… ‘Eat properly, don’t have cola, coffee and tea, and get plenty of exercise on a regular basis.’ Wow! All in all you can see that this is money well spent.
The outrageous expense of healthcare and lack of quality service received in return means that the money spent in visiting the doctor would no doubt be better applied to some other form of treatment, or simply to meet basic human needs like food, shelter or clothing. Wealthier brackets are no doubt better served by the profession but for those who may struggle to find money for food, rent or mortgage payments, transport or tuition fees, it seems that for the less obvious life-impacting or life-threatening problems there is little point in visiting the venerable GP.
So in the future I will not trust Western Scientific medicine to help me unless I have some readily identifiable problem that can be solved in a relatively short period of time. Instead I will seek alternative treatments as required. Until Western doctors prove they care once more, I won’t care about keeping food on their tables, paying their surgery rent or paying for their golf lessons. Until they are better able to apply their no doubt vastly superior intellect and intensive university training to treat my problems I will be better served in trusting myself.