For 2 months, Dr. Kenneth Hughes has placed elective surgeries on hold, and doctors have operated to help the sick and the injured.  This is a time when there are no funds being disbursed, but the greatest risks are being taken by healthcare providers.  The small business that is a doctor’s practice has been shut down and losses continue to accrue.  Difficult decisions about the business of private practice, threat of insolvency, and trickle down effects to staff loom large.

What will the practice of medicine be when the dust settles?  Dr. Kenneth Hughes has continued to see urgent and emergent patients in the office but has remained vigilant to keep the doors closed to elective surgery. The coronavirus pandemic has made telemedicine mandatory as practices attempt to safely monitor patients while complying with orders.  Dr. Kenneth Hughes spends a significant portion of his time answering questions and concerns from postoperative patients who had surgery before the closure.

What will be the short-term and long-term effects on the practices of doctors worldwide?  Reports of layoffs, furloughs, and reduced or eliminated salaries all have increased. Difficult decisions still loom for Dr. Kenneth Hughes’s practice and others. The CARES Act may save a few small businesses of doctors but not the majority of them.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was growing negative sentiment towards doctors for at least the past 3 decades, not unlike America as a whole tended to harbor negative feelings about America’s military through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.  In the glory days, medicine was viewed as noble, and those who practiced medicine were viewed as noble individuals.  However, physicians have increasingly been viewed as the problem or a part of the problem.  The pandemic has perhaps reversed this trend as doctors have been ushered to the front line, putting their lives on the line to deliver care. Will this pandemic usher in a renewed respect for doctors?  Or will people worldwide give physicians only fleeting praise when the world is freed from the coronavirus pandemic?

Dr. Kenneth Hughes has known both acquaintances and friends who have succumbed to suicide rather than confront the endless stressful situations brought about by unreasonable patients and lawsuits, the bureaucracy of medicine, as well as evil individuals with their own agendas who lack the intellect and education to judge doctors in any manner but do so with impunity nonetheless.  Doctors face unfriendly and unfair scrutiny, and it is no secret that the suicide rate among doctors is the highest among all professions (even higher than post war PTSD victims).  This death rate has only increased over the last decade and will continue to increase unless or until patients and other agencies can realize that highly intelligent, extremely well educated doctors do not deserve the unfair scrutiny from others who could not possibly understand the technical or physiological milieu that doctors navigate thousands of times a day.