Blog MD of Chiriquí

False expectations

March 27, 2021

In a moment of leisure I came across the new trendy medical drama series, New Amsterdam, and began to think about the expectations that current medical dramas, such as Gray's Anatomy and House MD, have placed on the shoulders of healthcare personnel, in particular physicians, on the one hand, and the expectations that patients have when entering health care, on the other.

Let's start with the concept that these television dramas are fiction. They are exaggerations of reality to produce virtually impossible situations that have convenient plot devices and that ultimately end with a happy ending for the main characters. Each episode has supporting characters who leave the plot the moment they are no longer useful. Not at all similar to real life.

The attending physicians are well paid and have no greater worries than living their lives. They don't have to pay off loans, or respond to the current academic inflation, or stand in line to pay bills, or anything. They live ideal lives designed to give absolutely everything they have and focus on their passionate decisions.

There is also the problem that they make heroic decisions that defy established protocols to save the greatest number of people, and these decisions have no legal, moral or ethical consequences because patients understand, without a doubt, that everything was done for their well-being. . The same applies to family members, administrative staff and lawyers. Everyone has goodwill and reactions are tolerant, no doubt about the nature of the decisions.

Finally there are the same characters in every drama, who don't get tired and can almost achieve the miracle of bilocation. They do not have to rest, they do not suffer from emotional exhaustion, they do not get saturated with administrative paperwork and they even have time to volunteer in community causes without detriment to their quality of care.

This creates absolute expectations, impossible to achieve. Anyone who attends the public can tell you. There is nothing that robs someone of the joy of living faster than serving the public, regardless of whether it's in the health sector. This is why I do not agree with these dramas. They produce hours of empty entertainment, that does not educate the public and that are designed not to see an arc in the personal development of the characters, but to keep the viewers glued to the chair.

I invite you to put yourself in the place of healthcare personnel who even now must face conspiracy narratives in which we are participants or co-authors, having to work when we all want to be at home with our families and who are supposed to have all the correct answers in the precise moments. If all goes well, there will be no holidays or awards, because that is to be expected. If all goes wrong, those mistakes are known to all and have serious, public consequences that turn staff into outcasts.

Health care in Panama has had to submit to populist policies that force having to lower all standards in order to please the citizens. Minute clinics exploit health personnel to please the greatest number of clients, not necessarily to satisfy their needs. They charge cheaply, so doctors have to see dozens of people for long hours to earn a decent income. If everything goes well, he will go home with his pay, but if everything goes wrong, public opinion will find him guilty until he loses the memory of the incident.

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