Shouldn’t the Patient be Priority?

A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)

Panic. Over-reaction.

Yes, I said it. I think the focus on the swine flu is more than a bit extreme.

Yes, it is true that it is a more harsh form of the flu, but it is still just a flu, isn’t it? Why suddenly are we as society, domestically and globally, so concerned with this particular strain of the flu? I have yet to see clear evidence that this is truly something to be concerned with at pandemic levels, especially when there are other much more serious medical issues to be concerned with, both within America’s borders and throughout the global community.

Within America, millions of people go without any medical treatment at all. They are not privy to legal protections that allow them the right to go to a county hospital and sit for eighteen hours and be able to work with the hospital for payment of the bill, or complete waiving of said bill. Sometimes, people wait so long to see a doctor, that a solution to the problem is no longer available.

And sometimes, even with insurance, the co-payment of 20% is such a hindrance in maintaining the normal life function of a person, that the harassing calls to get $75, after being paid $500 from the insurance, does more harm to the patient than good for the doctors’ offices being relentless in their pursuit of collecting such a small amount of money.

What ever happened to the days where the patient’s needs were the most important?

I recall learning about a time in history that when a person didn’t have the monetary means to pay a doctor, they exchanged goods or services. The patient was simply put first. There wasn’t this overwhelming need to make money from the transaction, though when a patient had traditional form of payment, that was expected.

I think this change in America speaks to a greater underlying issue that one of my students brought up in class: in America, those with money and good insurance see the doctor a lot, whereas the poor and uninsured do not.

But at least in America, the conditions are, for the most part, sanitary and effective.

When I was in Thailand, the group I was with visited a Burmese refugee hospital near the border of Thailand and Burma. The hospital ‘hallways’ were simply muddy walkways between rooms, rooms that only had half walls and barely a roof. Mud was continually tracked in and invaded the supposedly sterile operating area. It was amazing the success rate this clinic had when working to help people.

But many do die here, as well as other poor conditioned medical facilities throughout the world. So why then do I even bring it up? Simply put, it is in these places that we are reminded that the true purpose of medicine is to help the patient survive or die in comfort.

The patient really does need to come first.


37 thoughts on “Shouldn’t the Patient be Priority?

  1. I think that the Swine flu is being blown totally out of proportion. It is just the media spree of the month. If there was really such a big pandemic of being killed from the flu why doesn’t the media talk about the 500 people that die from other flus. The Swine flu is just something for the media to talk about, not to say that it isn’t something to worry about I just don’t think that it deserves as much attention as do other major medical cases.

  2. I agree with Amy J. that the swine flu is being blown out of proportion. However, I think that the media should inform the public about such things as the swine flu even though there are many other flus that kill people on an everyday basis. I think a lot of people feel the media is overdoing it, but at the same time if they come down with the swine flu or your regular flu, they will be the first people to run to the doctor and complain and want help right away. Amy J. is right though, the media should spread their attention to other major medical cases that exist and have more people that we know are actually suffering.

    1. I disagree with Charles and Amy. My brother is still in high school. He told me 6 kids in his grade got the swine flu and they are gonna shut the school down. I don’t think it’s blowing out of proportion because everyday you hear about someone who got it in a differant county or state or whatever. This is showing that it is spreading, I don’t think people should think it’s no big deal because it’s only going to a few people soon 2 people sick will be 4 then 8 then 16 etc.. It will spread if we do not take care of this. The last thing I want is to get the swine flu and if we are not taking the appropriate steps to take care of this, it will sneak up behind us and end up having a lot of people sick. If you have a problem you should fix the problem.

      1. I agree and disagree with you Jordan. People are dying from this flu everywhere all over the world, and we hear about it almost every day. but like stated by Amy J, it is the hot topic in the media right now. more amounts of people die every day from different problems. for example, every year 6 million children die of hunger-related causes. put that in proportion to day to day statistics, and try to imagine how many die in a single day. if the news listed the names of every person that died from hunger-related causes in one day, every day, we would have more people doing something about it. I am not trying to say that we should ignore the problem at hand, but when the media talks about it everyday it looks a lot worse than it can be in reality. And when we ignore the things that actually are worse than the things we are currently worrying about, reality is distorted and more lives are lost to an oblivious world.

      2. I agree with Jordan F here. I think that the media is trying to inform us how fast the swine flu is spreading. I strongly agree when Jordan F says “soon 2 people sick will be 4 than 8 than 16…” Even if this flu doesn’t spread that fast, we still need to recognize that this flu is new and it is spreading. It is cramming the media up but I think it is important to update us citizens with what any information they can find on such things as symptoms, treatments, and how fast it’s spreading. People are saying it’s blown out of proportion because it’s not that big of a deal since people aren’t dieing, yet we all get in a car everyday which is much more deadly than the flu. What matters is that we find a cure fast because there is a possibility it could spread faster then we think.

  3. I believe the swine flu is being overexaggerated. Anually, about 35,000 people die from the regular flu and the regular flu has never gotten as much attention by the media as the swine flu has in just the last few weeks. Some people also need to get educated about the swine flu because some uneducated people believe the swine flu comes from eating pork. I work at a restaurant and the other day a customer said do not offer me any pork, I am a mother of three and I do not want to get myself or my children sick. When I heard about this situation I had to laugh.
    As for the harrassing calls for $75, I find that ridiculous and the prices of prescriptions rediculous. I once had an eye infection and had to pay $80 for a small bottle of eye drops. It seems as if the doctors are just trying to take money and the patient certainly does not seem to come first.

  4. I agree that the patient should be the priority. The purpose of the medical field is to help people, but nowadays it seems the purpose of medicine is to be able to make over 6 figures and have an occupation that will impress people…not to help out mankind. Now I do not believe we should have free healthcare because there are negatives to having a system like that – but I do believe that what we pay for medical care is outrageous (to say the least) and I think the medical system is in need of a reform.

    1. I agree and both disagree with Sarah. The patient should be the priority, correct. There are people, such as doctors, who go to school for many years to help the sick. You don’t think they should get anything in return. I think they should make a lot of money. It’s not easy being a doctor, at all times someone’s life is in your hand. You must have the proper training to help them and you for that moment when they’re in need of your help you are like a god. You control whether they live or die. It’s not easy to have this kind of task on your hands. This is what I look at when I think of a doctor, it is a very hard and stressful occupation.

      1. In some ways I would like to concur with this response. Doctors do have a stressful job and they deserve to get paid for their services. But not at the expense of the patient. I think part of the problem with the medical field is that many doctors have developed a god-like mentality and they then think they are better than everyone else. In the end, I don’t think this makes a doctor a good doctor. The best doctor’s, I think, are the ones that take the time to listen to their patients needs and partner with the patient for the best treatment, and then work with them on the payment rather than demand payment immediately.

  5. Our medical system in the United States is expensive but it is better than most other places in the world. Some places barely even have doctors or a medical treatment place to go to. I do agree with Sarah that it should not be free. It would become chaos because everyone would want to be helped first. As for the hospitals and treatment centers putting money over the patients first, that is just not right. We need to somehow change back to the way it used to be where the patients came first.
    For the swine flu, everyone is right that it is being blown out of proportion. We do need to focus our attention on more important things going on in the world.
    Things such as, getting our troops home, world hunger, or other important health problems that are affecting more people than the flu.

  6. America’s medical facilities are so expensive these days, most people can barely afford to walk into a hospital. Money might seem so important during these times, but is it really more important than our nation’s health? The swine flu is a new illness that the world is being exposed to. Because it is new its making front pages on papers. Even though people die from the normal flu all the time, this new illness is the over-exaggerated focus of our country now. we’re neglecting the real problem which is our “recession”.

  7. I agree with Cindy V. That we are all panicing over something thats not that big of a deal. Way more people die a year from the regular flu than have died from the swine flu so far. How do we know that the people that died from the swine flu didn’t have other health problems? Mexico has a lot of areas where the water isn’t very clean so that could also have something to do with it.

  8. I totally agree with this blog, everyone is talking about the swine flu and how bad it is getting. It is not as bad as it seems. I think the media is talking about it so much to make our minds not wonder or think about the economy anymore, they rarely trying to give us a break and make us think about something else. There are other, more horrible things going on in the world right now too and people die everyday from a lot of different diseases. The swine flue was a big shock to everyone, but people can protect themselves and every doctor was ready with medicine and all. I realized that you can’t even go to a doctor anymore without hearing such a high number to pay, and if you dont have the money they are so hard to let you go on a payment plan. What about the people that might be sick with the flu? they might be too scared to go to the doctor because of the price, because i know since I have no insurance. A simple eye exam cost you now over $100 and you have to pay up front. Why can’t we have some very low cost servies? Why do doctors have to be so rich and still be very arrogant to what is going on in the world. People willl be dying because they just do not have the money to pay $6,000 if they stay in the emergency room, they do not need to stress even, or then they already do. I think patient should be the number 1 and not the money.

  9. I must say that I agree with Charles W. about the fact that the swine flu has to be spread by the media, since people have the right to know what’s going on. Nonetheless, this swine flu topic has become overly popular and overly exaggerated. And, about the American hospitals, I have to say that I was overhelmed with the quantity that they make you pay. I come from a country where the hospitals are unsanitary, but where the spirit of saving lives is still there. My father is a doctor and I must say that he is the kind of doctor that loves his job and loves helping people, mostly people with low income. He does free consultations for poor people. Finally, I think the future generations are becoming doctors because of the stereotype about doctors = money, and not because of the passion of helping people!

  10. I believe the media has taken this too far. Like most people commented, we have not seen any real results. I have spoken to people in Mexico and asked them what was going on, for a while everyone paniced. Eight out of ten people wore maskes in Mexico. The sad thing is that some people worried for no reason because the Mexican government used it as a diversion. I have spoken to the people in Mexico. They told me the war against the drug trafficking was horrible. Just to know, in the begining of May they legalized a small porportions of drugs for your personal use. They told me the swine flu was to scare people to not leave their house to march against the new drug law. Which obviously worked. Some people feel stupid. Some are still scared, but this shows how powerful the media really is, don’t you think?

  11. I believe we live in a very sick society. It really is sad when you have doctors whose job and oath is to save people and help them live better, who are more concerned about the payment that they are to recieve than the actual patient. I hear that there are already cures to certain diseases (ex. diabetes and certain cancers) that pharmacuetical companies prevented from being released. They harrassed one doctor who supposedly had a cure for diabetes till he moved out of the United States. They could care less about the people dying and suffering. They would rather have plenty of pieces of paper (money) than to save lives.

    How utterly disgusting and sad.

  12. I agree with nearly everything that has been said in this blog. I agree that the swine flu has been over exaggerated due to the media. I believe that it was the media that scared people by addressing this flu that can kill you. I also agree with Bonniejean about the patient coming first. It makes the most sense that that patient should come first when they are the one that is truly in need; however, I would also like to address the need of the doctors. Unfortunately, there has become a tug-of-war between who needs more attention. Doctors are trying to see more patients and giving the patients less care in order to come up with enough funds to pay for their own insurance; however, the patient is fighting for the attention when they are faced with something medically wrong. The question then becomes who needs it more? To me, the answer is obvious that the patient needs the attention more, although society today has become one based off of material possessions and money, thus making the doctors feel they are in the right to give patients less care to boost their numbers of patients seen and gain more monetary benefits.

  13. I agree with everyone in the blog. Also what Ashley said. I am a conspiracy theorist, and I do believe that this is possibly a way the government can distract us from the recession and the economy but at the same time I think they are secretly plotting against us. I looked into a government website a couple months ago before Obama was elected into office and found out that there were a couple FEMA camps out there used to quarantine people. If this whole swine flu, or as they call it now the H1N1 epidemic, was suddenly just brought upon us why did they plan and have camps specially designed to quarantine people with disease. This website also stated that they had plastic like coffins that would house bodies that had died from the disease (They claimed there would be a huge case of bird flu) and keep it contained. This sounds way to much like they planned for all this. I know I am going off on a tangent and it does not seem to relate with the blog topic, but I will tell you why it relates. The government seems to be so focused on the recession that they seem willing to do anything they can to save money, that includes not giving people the best medical treatment and also possibly killing off people in a discreet way to keep the population of the US down, so the economy can grow again. Most people of the lower income can not afford medical costs and the swine flu is possibly an easy way to get rid of people that are not feeding money into the economy, and instead using the economy to get money.

  14. “Panic, over-reation” for sure. The swine flu is a crazy idea the media found and loves to make a great story on it. The media corrupts everything these days just to get their side up. If they can’t find dirt or bad news then there probably isn’t any news. Swine flu kills less people than car accidents. This supposed pandemic is a joke. Besides that, people don’t doctor for free any more because the government requires too much schooling and too much taxing for doctors too seriously consider being a free doctor. The world is falling corrupt.

    1. I agree with Nathan K. I think that the media is overreacting making it more than it really is. Everyday in the media it is something different about the Swine Flu. A lady in Texas gave birth to a baby dead. At first they said it was Swine Flu, but then they came back and said she had other health issue. If you go to the doctor and you have had swine flu more than 48 hours, they cannot give you Swine Flu medication they are just going to send you home and tell you to stay home 7 days. So, you just paid them $$$$$ for them to tell you just to stay home and take home remedies. I went to the dentist last year to have extensive work done which caused my mouth to be very numb. Well, before I can get out the dentist door they were asking me for money although my insurance will cover a certain percentage they charge me what they thought I should pay after my insurance cover me, but my insurance company had not received the bill yet. I think money is the priority, not the patient. The world is corrupt.

  15. I think that the Swine flu was totally over exaggerated. The media chose to make it such a big topic for their own glory. They put fear and anxiety in a lot of people that wasn’t necessary at all. In the news they were saying that there were going to be numerous fatalities in the U.S. Only one or two people ended up actually dying from this illness in the U.S. The media should really get their facts straight and make sure their information is reliable before they choose to publicize different things. I really think this would create less fear within people and the media might even gain more respect for what they do.

    1. I agree with Megan, the Swine Flu is over exaggerated. The media is having a blast with this topic. Last week the Chicago public school on the news stated that if any kid comes to school with a fever or a cough they will get sent home for 7 days. For the past two weeks that is all you hear. It makes you stare at a person every time they sneeze or cough, which this was not so important before now it is. And I agree it puts a lot of fear in people.

  16. I agree with Charles and Amy. The swine flu is being blown out of capacity. We been had people dying of AIDS before this swine flu came into the picture. People get AIDS everyday and die from that and now people just finally find out about this swine flu and they treat everyone that has it like they are monsters from another planet and everyone is wearing a mask eveywhere they go but we can’t get people to wear condoms to be safe so they wont get AIDS. What is up with that?

    1. The King makes some valid points, but what do you suggest we do to get people to strap up and put condoms on? I mean it’s not like we can go in the bedroom with everyone who is looking to have sex and watch them or make them put a rubber on. I think that the only way to stop AIDS is to be abstinent and to be careful when choosing a sex partner.

  17. Charles W and The King, you both are absolutely right in that there are other, much more serious illnesses that have been virtually forgotten about. I am curious to learn how we should go about encouraging people, especially the young people of the world, to use protection. Sex amongst teenagers is way up, well above 50% of teens (some studies even suggest as hugh as 75% or 80% of teens have had sex), and this isn’t even counting oral sex. STDs other than AIDS is up, as is AIDS. The fact is, people are going to have sex, so trying to force abstinence on people of any age is not necessarily going to be successful. And if that is the case, how do we encourage people to make safer choices about their partners and how they go about doing it? Let the discussion continue…

    1. Bonniejean Alford Hinde, I agree, you make great points, as usaual. I think that in order to RAISE awareness and lower those statistics we need to start at home, with parents and aunts and uncles. I also believe that in high school we need to implement more than one sexual education course.

      1. I defiantly agree with Bonniejean Alford Hinde. People are going to have sex. Yes, abstinence is talked about in high school health class, but not all the people that hear about that are going to choose to listen. I also agree with Charles W, I think that we do need to start at home. I think parent’s need to stay connected with their children. People, young teens especially may not agree with what their teachers are telling them about this topic, but when it comes to you hearing what your own parents have to say, I think that definitely can have some impact on the choices one will choose to make in the future. I also think having a sexual education course at a younger age may help create more awareness as the teenager becomes older. All in all, you can give them as much awareness on this topic as you want, but in the end they are going to be the ones to decide what they are going to do with what they have heard.

      2. If we were to implement any more sexual education, it might just be encouraging it. Yes, kids need to know about it but like megan said, it’s ultimately their decision when they are going to have sex. If they know more things at a younger age, they’re more likely to be involved with it and want to experiment. Perhaps if we only taught them the risks involved, the statstics percentages would be lower.

  18. I agree with Gerardo G that both governments are overreacting about this to hide other problems in society. I never heard of how Mexico was handling swine flu, so it was interesting to hear of the mass overreacting there as well. In the United States I think it is good the news stations stopped over-covering the recession. The news always blows stories out of proportion, so I am not surprised in all the panic.

  19. I agree with Bonniejean and Charles. We do need to let people become more aware of sicknesses and diseases and people need to stop making big deals over little disease because the swine flu is little. I think AIDS is way more of a thing to worry about because AIDS been out way before this swine flu came into effect.

  20. The patient should be priority because you never can be too careful now with so many things going around. everything should be taken carefully and to take no chances I’m not saying go all out with any of this, but to keep in it mind. yes the media does blow sicknesses and illnesses way up, but it’s their job and that’s what they do so just keep these things in mind.

  21. I think the reason Americans were so focused on the Swine Flu was because it originated in Mexico and it was just another thing for Americans to be salty about. For an assignment I did for my sociology class I had to research different movements that are currently going on. A big one that caught my eye is how racism and exploitation are two major reasons that the war in Iraq is happening right now. I think the focus on the swine flu has to do with racism and scapegoating because the Americans are happy they have someone else to blame for this outbreak. It was blown out of proportion because millions of people die from heart attacks, AIDS, and other diseases and we don’t hear suck “breaking” news about all that like we did with the swine flu. Ridiculous.

  22. Going into nursing, of course I would have to say always the patient comes first. In life in general, I tend to always put people before myself anyways because, I am naturally a giving person. At my work, because of this extremely intense overreaction of the swine flu (have to agree with BonnieJean on this one), not only did the employees get training on “How to Tell the Difference between a cold and The Swine Flu” but the residents did as well, because they need to know and have the right to that knowledge also. The swine flu topic is just overrated and is just another topic for people to gossip about and stress over. I have to say though, when I got sick three weeks ago, I had all the symptoms of the swine flu from our training and I freaked out. But, all that stress for 2 days- after that I was fine. Now, I do have insurance and was going to go to the doctor, but for what? They would have just told me I had the flu and stay hydrated and sleep (which I did)! Maybe they would have given me and antibiotic, but I decided to save myself the money and trouble and try to sleep it off. Going into nursing as a profession, I want to be the best I can be and love, care and have respect for every individual the same. I want to help people and always put the patient first because in life I strive to do the next right thing for the right reasons.

  23. Working in the healthcare field myself, I see people everyday with the Swine Flu. I’ve been vacinated and I follow the necessary precautions with this disease as with any other disease. You have to protect yourself in order to provide care to others.

    As far as the patient coming first, I can tell you that I was very impressed with the training I recently received at Alexian Brothers. The first thing they taught us was that the patient comes first. They taught us the history of the Alexian brothers which began by caring for those dying of the black plague when no one else would. I still see that spirit alive and well in our facility. I know that I have been working there for only a month but I have been extremely impressed by what I have seen.

  24. As an aspiring doctor, I was told that hospitals are businesses and they needed benefit as a business. This angered me because it was also suggested to me that I should go to school for business instead and just become a CEO of a hospital. “They make more money and go to school in less time.” But I had no interest in making money, I wanted to help others. Because of this I have steered away from the doctor career to be a biologist. I feel I won’t become disturbed in my career with yet another corrupt system in America.

  25. Very well put I do see the lack of the importance of the patient going on in hosipitals now-a-days. They are solely forced on wheather or not that person has insurance good insurance at that. It is true that most people that dont have insurance avoid going to th hosipital or clinic just to avoid the huge bill they will get later on in that week. For a person to have to sit around and wait on a doctor and not get treated fairly just because they dont have insurance that will pay them enough or have no money to pay them is sad.

  26. I have to agree with this. Patients really should come first. I feel that if someone does not have enough money for the treatment they need, they should not be penalized and have to wait for the treatment or not get it at all. It is not fair to the person. Also, some people really can not afford to go to the doctor every time they get sick. Whenever I get sick, I do not go to the doctor unless it is really bad. I just take medicines that I think will help because I do not have money like that to go to the doctor every time I get sick. I just think that when it comes to saving people’s lives, the patients really should come first.

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