Longer looks: Why we still have faith in physicians

Published on April 27, 2012 at 7:03 AM · No Comments

Every week, Kaiser Health News reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

National Journal: Why We Trust Doctors
This patient is no fool, and she does't award trust liberally. … Yet, somehow, (Mary) Morse-Dwelley never lost faith in Pellegrini. She'd hear the click of her doctor's shoes in the hallway, see her blond hair and funky glasses, and feel confident that she was in good hands. This, too, represents a broad trend: As we have become better-informed patients, we have grown more cynical about a health care system that is ever more corporate and reliant on technology. Nevertheless, our faith in physicians has proved incredibly durable. Gallup, which has polled on public trust in professionals every year since 1976, reports high and rising marks for doctors. In the latest survey, from 2011, 70 percent of respondents rated medical doctors as high or very high when asked about their "honesty and ethical standards," a record. When the Kaiser Family Foundation asked Americans whom they trusted in 2009-;the height of the debate over the health care law-;78 percent said they believed that their doctors put patients' interests ahead of their own (Margot Sanger-Katz, 4/26).

American Medical News: Bariatric Surgery Maintains, Doesn't Gain
In a way, bariatric surgery is like the member of the chorus who spent years waiting for a big break, got it, became a star, and then found out that success was harder than it looked. After decades of slow growth since the first procedure was performed in 1954, rates escalated rapidly in the first few years of the 2000s but hit a wall recently. That wall may not be so easy to get past, even if the economy fully recovers. A total of 36,700 bariatric surgeries were carried out in 2000, and then jumped 29% to 47,200 in 2001, according to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. An additional 63,100 were carried out in 2002, an increase of 34% from the previous year. In 2003, 103,200 procedures were performed for an annual growth rate of 64%, the biggest increase in the previous decade. Hospitals and large health systems opened bariatric surgery centers as revenue builders and to serve their communities. General surgeons started specializing in the procedure (Victoria Stagg Elliott, 4/23).

The New York Review of Books: Why the Mandate Is Constitutional: The Real Argument
The Supreme Court's hearings in the health care case, US Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, over a nearly unprecedented three days of oral argument in late March, generated all the attention, passion, theater, and constant media and editorial coverage of a national election or a Super Bowl. Nothing in our history has more dramatically illustrated the unique role of courtroom drama in American government and politics as well as entertainment. … The prospect of an overruling is frightening. American health care is an unjust and expensive shambles; only a comprehensive national program can even begin to repair it. One in six Americans lacks any health insurance, and the uninsured of working age have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who are privately insured (Ronald Dworkin, 5/10).

TIME: Debt Collectors In The E.R. And Delivery Room: Is Profit-Driven Medicine At A Breakpoint?
Imagine that you've brought your child to the emergency room and you're revealing your most private health information to the hospital staff member at the desk, desperate because you fear your child's very life is at risk. But the desk clerk seems more concerned about getting paid than giving care, and even makes veiled threats against your credit score if you're not able to cough up the money to cover the bill. Who is this heartless bureaucrat? Is it a hardened triage nurse? A bored clerk? Would you believe it could be a third-party bill collector posing as a hospital staffer? Welcome to 21st-century American medicine (Maia Szalavitz, 4/25).

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