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The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #5

The Master Speaks

It was a delightful surprise for me, and I hope for you fans of the W^5/2, to log onto SBM on Thursday and find this blog by Dr. Wallace Sampson. As I mentioned in that long-ago posting that introduced the topic that eventually hatched the W^5/2, Dr. Sampson is my Yoda, when it comes to the topic that he named: Language Distortions. More about that below.

When the Goin’ Gets Tough…

OK, I’ll admit I threw you a curveball last time. That shaman thing rilly was a bit over the top, even if it rilly did come from an honest-to-god Sacred ”CAM” Scroll. Reminds me of something by Jonathan Swift…I can’t remember where…Gulliver, maybe?…he copied, verbatim, a ship captain’s log, recognizing it as a good satire by itself (extra credit for any reader who finds that reference). So I rilly can’t blame Stu (m’man!) and homeboy David Gorski for their reluctance to Waluate that Suckah. Stu, true to expectations, even submitted an additional explanation that was pretty frickin’ funny in its own right.

The Tough Get Goin’!

On the other hand, five readers Dug Down Deep to Deconstruct the Dang Deal, and they deserve full credit! The winner was, without question, Michelle B: she submitted the most comprehensive translation, even providing a comparative look at ancient and modern popular culture. Michelle B, for the W^5/2 #4, You Da Woman.

Second place goes to mmarsh, a newcomer to the W^5/2, who looks like a playah. Here’s hoping he/she becomes a regular.

Honorable mentions for DVMKurmes , Michael X (in an elliptical sort of way), and overshoot, each of whom gave it a shot, if, er, a somewhat abbreviated one. I wasn’t sure whether wertys was offering a formal Waluation or just an amusing observation, but either one is always welcome, of course. Same for the observation of reechard. Keep those cards and letters comin’!

This Week’s Entry

In honor of Dr. Sampson’s recent blog, here’s another snippet from the article whose abstract he translated:

The integrative medicine movement is fueled not only by the dissatisfaction of consumers with conventional medicine, but also by the growing discontent of physicians with changes in their profession. Physicians simply do not have the time to be what patients want them to be: open-minded, knowledgeable teachers and caregivers who can hear and understand their needs. Their unhappiness is not just the result of the limitations managed care has placed on their earning capacity. It is also a response to a loss of autonomy, to a loss of fulfilling relationships with patients, and, for some, to a sense that they are not truly helping people lead healthier lives. Significant numbers of physicians are now quitting medical practice, and applications to medical schools are decreasing precipitously.

As I’m sure you’ll already have noticed, the “plot” of that paragraph has a little something that’s different from the usual fare.

Happy Waluating!

The Misleading Language and Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo series:

  1. Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Integrative Medicine’
  2. Integrative Medicine: “Patient-Centered Care” is the new Medical Paternalism

Posted in: Humor, Medical Academia, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (9) ↓

9 thoughts on “The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #5

  1. Michelle B says:

    Translation:

    Medicine. Hard. Pseudo-Science. Easy.

  2. Stu says:

    Faith-based medicine thrives because physicians are sick of the current health-care system, where people are “consumers”. These hoity-toity ivory-tower weasels have the gumption to think that health care should be something different than running your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart and this attitude turns people off.

    If only this medical hoi-polloi could be more open-minded (like homeopaths, whose minds are veritable 3-car-garage-door open)! If only they could be knowledgeable teachers (and affirm whatever the consumer thinks already, instead of that elitist “medicine” stuff they keep going on about)! If only they could be caregivers that can hear and understand their needs (instead of insisting on that whole “go see a psychologist” ploy)!

    But no, they feel so wronged that they make less money for serving twice as many patients, so wronged that an accountant makes decisions in consumer affairs rather than it all being up to them (God complex, anyone?), so frustrated that they only get to spend five minutes on a patient (how long does it take, really… ever heard of efficiency, oh mighty ones?), that they’re not even helping patients lead healthy lives anymore and focus on that communist “curing” thing only. Some are so upset they are even quitting, and encouraging people not to become doctors.

    When will they learn that the “consumer” is King?

  3. joel_grant says:

    My translation: Doctors are so busy that many patients perceive a deterioration of bedside manners, and many doctors and potential doctors are discouraged by the economics and culture of today’s medical practice. When both the providers and consumers of scientific medicine are unhappy, the door is open for non-scientific alternatives.

    Er, not funny but I think that is an honest translation.

    And I assume that some patients and some doctors are unhappy about the current delivery system. That such unhappiness as exists should inadvertently send patients to quacks is collateral damage.

  4. nicodemus6 says:

    People want hugs, not drugs. In fact, doctors are sad because they don’t have the time to hug their patients anymore. Now that the Man has taken away their hugs, doctors realize the happiness and self-purpose they attributed to improving a patient’s health was a sham. (Also, doctors want money, but that’s not as important as hugs.) Doctors know their patients are mad at them for not hugging them well and often; this hurts their feelings, bad enough that many are no longer calling themselves doctors anymore.

    If only there were a “medical” alternative that put the proper emphasis on hugs!

    Certainly, the relational aspect of medicine has deteriorated over the past half-century, but medicine itself has become too complex to allow for every specialist, technician, and surgeon along the line to know the patient’s name, family members, and hobbies. If your doctor can make house calls with an MRI machine in tow, I’d love to have his number.

    I suppose if you define “wellness” broadly enough, a CAM practitioner could improve that quality better than a degree-holding physician. Of course, my mother’s adorable Schnauzer could fill that void, too.

    And I’d love to see some actual numbers on med school enrollment over the past few decades.

  5. wertys says:

    ‘The integrative medicine movement is fueled not only by the dissatisfaction of consumers with conventional medicine, but also by the growing discontent of physicians with changes in their profession. ‘
    This is an utter non seqitur. The growth of the sCAM movement is due to relaxed enforcement of anti-quackery laws, the growth of the internet, postmodernist relativism, the antiscience movement and a host of social changes. It has very little to do with physician dissatisfaction, as few physicians give up the practice of medicine in preference for quackery and those who do either succumb to the lure of a cash cow (Deepak Chopra) or abandon science because they never really understood it (Sandra Cabot of the Liver Cleansing Diet). As has been said often enough, it is illogical and not supported by the evidence to say that the problems medicine has as a profession are anything to do with the rise of quackery.

    ‘Physicians simply do not have the time to be what patients want them to be: open-minded, knowledgeable teachers and caregivers who can hear and understand their needs’

    I thought patients paid me to have the benefit of my years of study and disciplined intellectual activity brought to bear on their health-related problems. The same way I pay a builder to make sure my house is built in accordance with the relevant national standards and is up to scratch. The same way I pay more for some winemakers’ products than others, because I can be confident that whatever the weather has served up her skills will have produced a complex, interesting and pleasing drinking experience. Hearing and understanding needs is all very well, but if that’s all you want, call your chaplain rather than your doctor. My other observation about this sentence is that physicians who may not have a great bedside manner are usually that way in other areas of their lives as well. If you get on well with your doctor that’s great, but what you really want is someone who can help you, not hold your hand and make sympathetic cooing sounds.

    ‘Their unhappiness is not just the result of the limitations managed care has placed on their earning capacity. It is also a response to a loss of autonomy, to a loss of fulfilling relationships with patients, and, for some, to a sense that they are not truly helping people lead healthier lives. ‘

    Pass me a hanky, please. This argument is specious because it assumes that doctors may be tempted to make career decisions based on projected fantasies of a small number of burnt-out colleagues. At least in Australia, the recurrent reasons cited by doctors as causes of career dissatisfaction include long hours, red tape, poor safety in some workplaces, amount of unpaid overtime with poor remuneration a distant 5th. I can’t remember reading anything in the fairly extensive literature on the subject about a sense of not truly helping people lead healthier lives. While we in this part of the world have no wish to see managed care introduced, I cannot imagine that the loss of autonomy involved would be so severe that unregulated quackery looked like a better career option. If so I am alarmed at the state of healthcare in the US….

    ‘Significant numbers of physicians are now quitting medical practice, and applications to medical schools are decreasing precipitously.’

    This is mere unsupported assertion. If no evidence to back it up is adduced it cannot be held as true just because it has been asserted.

    In summary, this passage makes facile and at times frankly untrue assertions about the link between physician career dissatisfaction and the increasing popularity of sCAM. It ignores the well-documented causes of these phenomena and the lack of any evidence to link the two, and instead construes a scenario in which doctors who can’t spend enough time oozing care from every pore all over their unsuspecting patients are leaving the profession in droves to become unregulated quacks where they can spend as long as they want caring and understanding until their teeth hurt. The patients in this case are presumed to be happy to pay whatever it takes to have an expensively trained physician drooling care all over them until they get sick of it or until their self-limiting illness has run its course.

  6. Michael X says:

    “The [2+2=5] movement is fueled not only by the dissatisfaction of consumers with conventional [math], but also by the growing discontent of [mathematicians] with changes in their profession. [Mathematicians] simply do not have the time to be what [students] want them to be: open-minded, knowledgeable teachers and caregivers who can hear and understand their needs. Their unhappiness is not just the result of the limitations [a math degree] has placed on their earning capacity. It is also a response to a loss of autonomy, to a loss of fulfilling relationships with [students], and, for some, to a sense that they are not truly helping people lead [arithmetically correct] lives. Significant numbers of [math nerds] are now quitting [adding altogether], and applications to [math] schools are decreasing precipitously.”

    Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m convinced.

  7. DVMKurmes says:

    No translation this week, just a comment.
    Veterinarians are predominantly autonomous, and do not have to deal with insurance or managed care. Nevertheless, CAM is infiltrating the veterinary schools just as it is the medical schools. Due to the nature of the veterinary licensing laws in many states, the people practicing CAM on animals are almost exclusively licensed veterinarians. Even in Arizona, there are no boards of alternative veterinary medicine. In my area, a quick survey of the yellow pages shows about 1/3 of practices advertise CAM including accupuncture, chinese medicine/herbs, veterinary chiropractic, or “holistic” or “integrative” medicine.
    This trend in veterinary medicine would tend to put the lie to this weeks entry. Veterinarians are quite autonomous, and have the ability to determine what type of client/patient/veterinary relationship we would like, yet some still find the woo irresistible (often as an added income source I suspect). It does seem that some animal owners will fuss about paying for medicine that works, but then be perfectly willing to spend money on amazingly silly “alternatives”.

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