TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- American medicine faces many challenges, especially the ever-increasing dominance of medical practice by multiple external forces that are usurping the physician's professional prerogatives, writes Paul Martin Kempen, M.D., Ph.D., in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Kempen is a practicing anesthesiologist who serves as president of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
According to some estimates, clerical tasks mandated by insurers or government consume more than 80 percent of medical professional time. There is no numeric shortage of physicians in the U.S., compared with other countries, Dr. Kempen writes. The U.S. has more physicians per 100,000 people than other advanced medical systems, such as in Germany or the UK, where other "providers" and mountains of electronic billing "paperwork" are not commonplace.
The overwhelming documentation requirements are one reason for the widespread introduction of "physician extenders," including nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Such practitioners may now be making medical decisions at the highest levels as "providers," and even practicing independently," Dr. Kempen writes.
"Even more compromising to quality patient care is the way insurance corporations limit care by requiring pre-authorizations, specific referrals, corporate formulary restrictions, and specific locations of care delivery by 'in-network providers,' and 'preferred provider care' specifically by non-physicians—naturally, to limit corporate costs."
The continuing personal patient-physician relationship has been severely damaged over these past decades, especially during these months of COVID-19 quarantine, leading to a major degradation in the quality of care, Dr. Kempen states. In the system of "providers" and "health care networks," physicians in the distant background may never actually meet a patient, even during life-threatening hospitalizations.
Increasingly, he writes, care is limited to single-issue treatments in urgent-care facilities. Advocacy, the essential component of quality care, is missing. Advocacy by family members has also been greatly restricted by COVID-19 requirements. As he learned during a hospitalization for heart surgery in a regional center of excellence, "even a physician patient can have difficulty asserting rights and insuring optimal care."
The most concerning facets of the past COVID-19 year included multiple wrong directives and information provided by governments and its chosen experts, including economic shutdowns, media fearmongering, and the promise that vaccination could definitively eliminate the disease. "Political dogma has been imposed as medical dogma," Dr. Kempen writes.
Physicians need to unite for professional, personal, and patient protections, Dr. Kempen concludes. "This is especially important now that multiple forces, immune from oversight, are usurping physician leadership."
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.
SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)