Physician Heal Thyself?

From 1961 to 1966, Vince Edwards won top ratings as dedicated but difficult surgeon Ben Casey, who’s idealism often pitted him against the medical establishment.

Dr. James Kildare, who was played by Richard Chamberlain, ran during the same period as Edward’s Casey.  Working in a fictional large metropolitan hospital the Intern Kildare balanced trying to learn his profession and dealing with patient problems, all the while attempting to win the respect of the senior doctor, Dr. Leonard Gillespie.  Gillespie’s most memorable advice to Kildare . . . “Our job is to keep people alive, not to tell them how to live.”

In the 1969 to 1976 series Marcus Welby M.D., the affable Welby played by veteran actor Robert Young, maintained a winning bedside manner while contending with storylines that often concerned a professional conflict between well-meaning physicians.

Television it has been suggested, often mirrors the sensibilities and sentiments of the day in terms of our perceptions as a society.  As it relates to our view of doctors, it is somewhat ironic that one of the highest rated programs in the television world today is House M.D.  An iconoclastic character played by Hugh Laurie, who besides ruffling medical establishment feathers with his unorthodox manner is also addicted to Vicodin.

What does this say about our perceptions of the medical profession?

As we attempt to tackle the controversial subject of anti-psychotic drug use through either illegal, off-label sales on the part of the pharmaceutical companies, to capitalizing on the vulnerability of children and seniors through over-prescribing and the resulting life threatening side effects this practice causes, one might reasonably ask . . . where are the doctors?!

While I have been fortunate enough to personally have (and even meet through this show) some amazing physicians, whose balanced view of treatment begins with a better diet and exercise regimen, there still seems to be a chasm of silent indifference or futile acquiescence to a system of care that itself is suffering from ill health.

In the third and final segment of tomorrow’s 60-minute PI Window on Business Show with expert and author Jeff Knott (Navigating The Healthcare Maze) and Eric Wilson, author and Professor at Wake Forrest who’s book “Against Happiness: Are We Trying Too Hard To Be Happy” discusses our “addiction to happiness,” we will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What does the “evolution” of the character from idealistic champion to brooding addict genius say in terms of how we see doctors today, and the medical community in general?
  • How has our views of doctors changed over the years and, what impact does it have on how we interact – including of course engaging (re questioning) versus merely following doctor’s orders?
  • How has the landscape changed for physicians themselves and, what impact does this have on their approach to both treatment and the patients themselves?
  • What role, either actively or through apathy has the physician played relative to the problems we are discussing today?
  • Finally, pharmaceutical company, patient and doctor . . . who and how are any one of these (or perhaps all) responsible for the problems with the marketing, prescribing and administering of anti-psychotic drugs?  More importantly what role will each play in fixing the problems?

While there is an old saying that you cannot judge an entire profession by the conduct of a few bad (or inattentive) apples, the high profile deaths that have been linked to purported physician wrongdoing such as Michael Jackson’s, does little to buff the glean of the doctor’s stethoscope.

Calling Drs. Casey, Kildare and Welby!

Remember to use the following link to tune in to either the Live or On-Demand broadcast “Illegal Sales & The Overprescribing of Antipsychotic Drugs: Is A New “Drug War” Brewing?” on the Blog Talk Radio Network.

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