The foundation of medical care is the time-honored connection between patient and doctor, and it relies on trust and advocacy. It is fracturing.
Skyrocketing premiums providing less coverage, big business maneuverings, expanding government intrusion, entitlement programs running short of funds, increasing costs asso-ciated with dying, and risky interventions threatening the patient—all these elements serve to create a combustible medical milieu with the fuse already lit.
Navigating the twenty-first-century health care maze is no easy task—for patients or physicians—and already many personal choices have been taken out of patients’ hands. A para-digm shift is occurring in the provision and reception of health care services—the crisis is real, and the stakes are high. Lives will be changed. What is the end game? Who will decide what services a patient receives and when and by whom? Who will lead the quest for a solution? These are tough questions in search of elusive answers with only one thing for certain: the survival of patient-driven, physician-guided health care is at risk.
This collection of patient stories repeatedly directs attention to a landmark question: How can patients and doctors together restore balance, advocacy, and trust to the matter of giving and receiving medical care? The lessons within can galvanize both patients and doctors to commit to rebuilding the vital relationships they once enjoyed—bonds that can make the difference between good or bad care, relief or suffering, even life or death.