Don’t Let Your Doctor Kill You – Part 2

At the 52:00 minute mark of her President’s Lecture at SUNY Downstate Medical Center on December 14, 2015, Dr. Erika Schwartz calls for a revolution among doctors, re-focusing on the clinical and financial relationship with the patient and rejecting the politics and bickering among doctors as well as the domination of the field by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies who have created an industrial medical complex.

Let’s continue with some key points from Dr. Schwartz’s book, introduced in Part 1.

  • If the doctor is busy seeing the quantity of patients required to make a living through third party care, there’s a good chance he or she is going to find it difficult to spend the time required to address your concerns.
  • Patients have the right, and perhaps even the obligation to seek second and third opinions without fear of “hurting the doctor’s feelings”, particularly if they don’t feel their concerns are being addressed.
  • The concept of seeking other opinions should be rooted in gaining other perspectives not necessarily “doctor shopping” until your hear what you want to hear.
  • We need more doctors who give more than lip service to the connection between stress, diet, nutrition and exercise to disease processes and who respect the role of practices such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation in maintaining health.
  • The new breed of doctor will innovate, “tell it like it is”, and rise above the fear of being ostracized by medical societies or organizations whose influence is being disrupted by the empowered patient-doctor relationship.


The disruptive innovation of which Dr. Schwartz speaks, a return to the positive features of the doctor-patient relationship of yesteryear, requires non-conformity.  Some have used the term “concierge medicine” to describe elements of this movement in a derogatory way.  I wrote about this on my personal blog nearly six years ago through the lens of a powerful play, and it engendered discussion and comments that remain timely and pertinent.  Third party care healthcare still smacks of the type of capitulation to politics against which playwright Eugene Ionesco railed in Rhinoceros.  At the 7:30 mark of this interview, Ionesco remarks: “I bothered people because I thought differently”, and chides writers, journalists and professors of his day whose reticence paved the way for fascism to run rampant.

It is time for the writers, journalists, and professors in our profession to come forward regarding the revolution needed in healthcare.  And I will go a step further than I did six years ago, with the following observation that may ruffle a few feathers.  I speak here for myself, and not necessarily on behalf of the other members of visionhelp, or any organizations to which I belong, or from whom I derive a check for services outside of patient care.  For the past 40 years the profession of Optometry has progressively expanded its scope of practice and care largely by mirroring the path of Medicine.  This is one time when Optometry can blaze a trail that Medicine will follow.  The type of patient-doctor relationship that Dr. Schwartz champions is precisely the type of transformation that many of us have been engaged in for the past 10 to 20 years.  Let us now galvanize one another and take center stage.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Let Your Doctor Kill You – Part 2

  1. All types of doctors are not stupid people. Not all of them are altruistic. Some are outright dishonest. All want to make a living. Some just want to be rich. The selection of doctoral candidates and there pre-doctoral education are significant in good selection. The attitude towards patient care in the early parts of doctoral training can put the student on a good or bad path.

  2. My 45 years of practice focused on patient care, not financial gain. Truth be know, I made more money it real estate.
    I am not sure the new docs want to be rich, because that is not going to happen seeing patients each day by the time we are taxed to death. So, we do the best for each patient which I better than the box stores, and a couple of specialties, like sclera lenses, gas perm fits which the box stores don’t like, and add medical and we will be fine. Those O.M.D., who want our referrals will also send up patients. And, the Optometry Schools better steer graduates away from the low eyecare stores.
    With the contact lenses and eventually frame companies setting minimum pricing those places will go out of business.

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