Brad Feld

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Trust, The Healthcare System, and Saving My Dad’s Academic Life

Dec 25, 2008

My father, Stan Feld, is a retired endocrinologist.  He wrote a beautiful blog post yesterday titled The Therapeutic Magic Of The Physician Patient Relationship: Part 1.  In it he tells the story of almost flunking out of first grade in the Bronx.  The punch line:

“There is no question in my mind that this approach to medical care and the therapeutic effect of the positive physician patient relationship saved my academic life.”

I’m left handed so I can completely relate to this story – I had an incredibly difficult time learning how to write legibly, although my parents (and teachers) were much more appropriate in how they chose to approach it.  My dad’s story, which is a powerful story for any parent to read, has several deep lessons it in, including ones around trust.

“The simple way to put it is medical care has and is being commoditized and dehumanized. These attributes are the common denominator to patients’ complaints about the medical care system in 2008. I cannot justify or condone physicians’ behavior.

Our healthcare system has to change. It must support the humanizing elements or the patient physician relationship. It has to nurture mutual trust rather than distrust between patients and physicians. A healthcare system that supports distrust, physician and patient penalties and adversarial interrelationships does not permit this princely profession to offer the kind of care physicians are capable of.”

I read my dad’s post yesterday before I wrote Valuing Competence vs. Loyalty.  While they address completely different contexts and circumstances, if you squint you’ll get the common thread between them both.  That thread is trust.