TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 2, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Physicians are increasingly suffering symptoms similar to those of the battered spouse syndrome, writes Texas ophthalmologist Kristin Held, M.D., in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
"Battered physician syndrome" could be defined as "a pattern of signs and symptoms, such as fear and a perceived inability to escape, appearing in doctors who are physically and mentally abused over an extended period of time by demands and constraints of their profession or dominant individuals and groups seeking to malign and control them," she writes.
Physical stressors include sleep deprivation, malnourishment, and lack of exercise. In an entrenched entitlement state, physicians are barraged with constant undeserved defamation and increasingly impossible physical, regulatory, and financial demands, Held writes. Verbal and nonverbal threats of financial, legal, and professional harm, if not ruin, are constantly unleashed on physicians both by government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Justice, the IRS, and other agencies, and by private actors including big hospitals and the insurance/managed-care cartel.
Many physicians suffer from diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, and stress-related conditions. Signs of burnout and depression are common. The physician suicide rate is stunning, she states.
This syndrome is deadly for physicians and patients. Many physicians are leaving the profession, and they are discouraging the best and brightest from pursuing careers in medicine.
Could the syndrome be related to the increasing proportion of women in the profession? In 1965, percentage of women medical school graduates was a mere 6.9%. Over the next 40 years, women entered medicine in droves, and by academic year 2005-2006, the percentage of women students enrolled in medical schools peaked at 48.6%, Held reports.
The increase in women physicians started at the same time that Medicare passed, Held observes. While the number of physicians increased by 300% between 1970 and 2009, the number of administrators leaped by 3,000%, reflecting increased government involvement in medicine.
"Are women more likely to submit to bureaucratic, authoritarian domination, thus allowing it to proliferate unrestrained in a dark, deafening silence until it's too late?" Held asks. "Or are physicians of the Obamacare/MACRA Era, men and women alike, trapped in an insidious, pathologic relationship, trying to survive as a profession, self-destructed, deceived and dominated by government and special interests?"
Doctors must learn from the battered spouse syndrome. They need to leave the abusive relationship and forge a new path. They need to opt out of government medicine to be able to serve their patients, Held concludes.
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.