Why doctors need to treat the “whole” patient

you-are-responsible-1aKEY TAKEAWAY: The biggest cost of our health care is not prescription drugs, but visits to the hospital which are increasing in double digits.  Physicians are trained to treat “problems” but what happens when that problem is the patient themselves?

My friend Mike was in bad shape.  He was overweight, taking insulin for Type 2 diabetes and a smoker.  The pains in his chest drove him to the doctor who informed him that he needed bypass surgery as soon as possible.  “That was my wake-up call, ” he said.  After the surgery, he lost 150 pounds, stopped smoking and walks 2-3 miles a day.  He reversed his diabetes and no longer needs drugs to control his blood sugar.


Contrast that with another patient who was told their blood sugar is out of control, is considered obese and doesn’t get any exercise at all, another friend of mine.  His blood sugar eventually led to a diabetic stroke and he later died in a nursing home at the young age of 61.

What should be alarming about both these patients is the physician’s failure to intervene effectively.  Just what is the responsibility of a doctor treating a patient who is not taking care of himself?  Should they call family members or the insurance company to try and get the message across that they are slowly killing themselves?


First, it’s important to understand that physicians are under a lot of pressure and time constraints, but if that’s the case, why doesn’t the AMA speak up instead of trashing DTC ads?

Insurers, the AMA and the Government need to work on solutions to the most costly patients who are driving up costs.  We have to find ways to successfully intervene in patients who are not motivated to control their chronic health problems.  If we don’t our healthcare costs will keep rising year after year.


1 thought on “Why doctors need to treat the “whole” patient

  1. Great post. So often the health care system focuses on high tech solutions and drugs. There are lots of new digital tools and the evolving area of nutritional therapeutics that hold out great promise for helping patients get their health in order.

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