Thursday, April 16, 2009

Going to the Doctor Ain't What It Used to Be

I've been dealing with strep throat, laryngitis, and a hacking cough for several weeks now. The penicillin shot and oral antibiotics cleared up the strep, but nothing the doctor has prescribed has stopped this heavy mucus cough I've had. So, I called yesterday to see if they could prescribe a different cough syrup. Instead, they sent me off to get a chest X-ray, to rule out pneumonia, I guess. I don't have a fever any more, so pneumonia doesn't make sense to me, but maybe the X-ray does.

That's quite a different order to doing things than the way it used to be done. Used to be, if you went to the doctor with chest congestion, the very first thing the doctor would do would be to get an X-ray, not the last thing. That difference is definitely due to the cost of testing and the pressure to keep costs low for the doctor. Insurance companies push for less testing, too. So, the whole process of diagnosis has changed considerably over the years.

Our little rural town clinic had their own x-ray equipment, where this fancy clinic I go to now doesn't even do their own. They had to send me to lab in the same building to get blood drawn when they tested me for diabetes and down the road to a diagnostic center to have the x-ray done.

Other than looking in ears and mouth, feeling around a little on my neck, and taking a look at the localized inflammation I developed from the penicillin shot - this doctor didn't even touch me.

People nowadays don't have a more personal medical experience to compare to, so they don't know any better. But those of us with gray hair remember when....

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