Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Socioeconomic-status and Patient-Physician Interaction (Report #1)

                   Across various professions, socioeconomic status (SES) is a factor that plays a critical role in whether or not an individual may be eligible to perform or undergo a task based off of their race, social class, gender and many more aspects. In particular, individuals who are employed within the medical/health field encounter the issues associated with ethnicity, gender, and social class on an everyday basis. Having said that, the question at hand remains at whether or not physicians should be equipped with the ability to handle their wide patient-base on an interpersonal level; or, whether or not physicians should have a standardized method of interaction between their patient-base.

                As far as race is concerned in medicine, modern-day physicians can use a patient's ethnic background to more efficiently diagnose and provide a treatment plan for his/her ailment. In example, people of African-American descent are three times as likely to contract a serious case of asthma as any other race. With that stated, a doctor may be able to use this information in order to eliminate the possibility of this characteristic from causing any harm to the individual by addressing/checking the issue prior to conducting any further treatment if a more serious issue may be persisting. Additionally, people of Pacific-Islander descent are 75% more likely than any other race to contract a fatal heart-attack; therefore, a doctor may be able to use this information and change the dosage amount or concentration of a particular medicine/drug (I.E: Blood Thinner) to suit the needs of that particular individual. With all of this stated, medicine's aim is not to see their patients through a "racial looking glass;" but, rather, to utilize any bits of information at their disposal to maintain the well-being of their patients.

                The issue of gender in medicine stems from its neutrality in the issue. To clarify, the treatment for males and females tends to be very similar; needless to say, this may pose a problem as the two do not always react the same way or exhibit similar symptoms from taking a particular drug. For example, women suffering from profuse sweating may be diagnosed as having hot flashes (Gender-Neutral Diagnosis), but it is more symptomatic of the early signs of a heart attack which is usually not an indicator of a heart attack in men (Gender-Specific Diagnosis). Quite frankly, an issue such as the one previously mentioned could be avoided in the case that the situation is appropriately addressed with respect to the individual's physiology. Nevertheless, modern-day medicine cannot entirely be personalized with respect to gender at this point due to the incredible amount of demand for health care and lack of suppliers, but further research and technological advancements are allowing this to come into closer reach.

                Social class is another issue involved within the relationship between the patient and the physician. For instance, patients of a lower social class do not always have access to a greater array of benefits and are usually at a higher risk of acquiring some disease/disability then a patient of a higher social class may be. Having said that, this creates an inequality complex between the patient and the physician as the doctor may not always be able to provide his/her patient with an equally optimistic prognosis. Now, this issue stems more from the socio-political aspect of medicine that is out of the health provider's control; but, the physician should still be able to interact with the patient on an interpersonal level in terms of providing information about alternative treatment methods and possible outcomes.

                In my opinion, I believe that all medical professionals and students alike should be subjected to an educational system which includes a diverse group of instructors/mentors such as ethicists, sociologists, and politicians. I would hope that this methodology would provide the present and future of the medical/health sciences world to operate on a more interpersonal/sensitive level as opposed to a standardized/impersonal means of treatment among the infinitely expanding patient-base.

1 comment:

  1. If "personalized medicine" and genome-specific treatment is coming, it makes sense to be aware of more overt aspects of personality - like race and gender - but you're right to worry about the potential abuses of such a focus. But "treat the patient, not the disease" is helpfully-corrective guidance.