Sunday, April 19, 2009

Voices From the Past.
Reprinted from the Greater Kansas City Medical Bulletin, May 14, 1966.


There was a time when a physician need answer only to his God and his conscience. Whatever the shortcomings in his knowledge or training, yesterday’s doctor was Captain of the Medical Ship. His word was Law.

Those days are gone forever. The social and economic revolution of the past decade has had profound effects on medical practice. The most disturbing of these is the speed with which the control of medicine is passing from private to public hands.

Today’s doctor finds his practice supervised not only by the Local, State and Federal governments, but by a myriad of professional organizations as well. The AMA. The AHA, the ACP, the ACS, etc, etc, ad nauseum. All have their rules and regulations. There is no hospital worthy of the name with less than fifteen standing committees for the sole purpose of regulating the professional activities of its staff.

On July 1, 1966, a large segment of our population will come under federally regulated Medicare. If today’s trends are any indication of the future, tomorrow’s physicians will be practicing in an environment of even greater regulation and control. Furthermore, they will be subjected to regimentation of another type which may prove to be the greatest challenge of all. They will have to cope with the unyielding discipline of new knowledge and technology increasing at rates so fast that even computers can’t keep up.
As our society becomes more complex, we realize that a certain amount of regimentation is inescapable. Some may even be necessary. Unfortunately, much of it is simply the reflection of the bureaucratic thinking of our times.

Is there any hope for the future? In my opinion, there is and it lies in the simple fact that medicine will always be a private relationship between the doctor and the patient. Regardless of the system of medical practice, people will continue to seek doctors in search of relief from their physical and emotional ailments. They have the right to expect the physician to be a human being, sympathetic to their problems, and whose primary concern is for their welfare. Doctors would do well to remember this and not allow their anger and resentment of the system to interfere with their best medical judgement.

Until better criteria are developed, the patient can do worse than trust the doctor who answers to his God and his conscience.

Sherman M. Steinzeig, MD
Editorial Board Representative
Wyandotte County Medical Society

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