By KIM BELLARD
The term “moral injury” is a term originally applied to soldiers as a way to help explain PTSD and, more recently, to physicians as a way to help explain physician burnout. The concept is that moral injury is what can happen to people when “perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”
I think healthcare generally has a bad case of moral injury.
How else can we explain physicians practicing surprise billing, hospitals suing patients, health plans refusing to pay for pre-authorized treatments, or pharmaceutical companies charging “skyrocketing” costs even for common, essential prescription drugs? There are people involved in each of these, and countless more examples. If those people haven’t suffered a moral injury as a result, it’s hard to understand why.
Melissa Bailey, writing for Kaiser Health News, looked at moral injury from the standpoint of emergency room physicians. One physician decried how “the real priority is speed and money and not our patients’ care.” Another made a broader charge: “The health system is not set up to help patients. It’s set up to make money.” He urged that physicians seek to understand “how decisions made at the systems level impact how we care about patients” — so they can “stand up for what’s right.”Continue reading…