06/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Morphine for Your Headache?

You go to a doctor complaining of headaches. She gives you morphine and sends you home pain-free (and high). Is she practicing good medicine?

Ridiculous you say. No one would ever do that. Good medicine requires the doctor first to take a history. Then she would do a physical exam, order tests and review the results. She would study all this information to understand why you are having headaches, and only then, with diagnosis in hand, would she recommend treatment intended to fix the why.

All of us - as the "physicians" for our healthcare system - are practicing bad medicine. We are giving morphine shots for headaches.

Unresponsive insurance companies. Medical errors. Nursing shortages. Constantly rising health care costs. Over 45 million without medical insurance. These are all signs and symptoms. They are NOT causes. Yet they are what we try to treat. No wonder our patient - Healthcare - never gets better.

As soon as you think this way, our malpractice-in-common becomes clear. We are mistaking symptoms for causes and treating them with Patient's Bill of Rights; HIPAA; caps on malpractice awards; repeated reductions in healthcare reimbursements. Despite these, patients are not protected; sharing of information is prohibited; adverse medical outcomes are handled poorly; shortages of personnel get worse; and costs go up even as allocations go down. Why? Because we are treating symptoms. We are not curing the causes of illness in our healthcare system.

You might (or might not) be interested in my view of the causes. What you should be very interested in is YOUR diagnosis - what you see and understand as the reasons for the symptoms we all experience when we engage the healthcare system (or non-system).

If you are looking for an expert with the answer; if you expect the Government to solve healthcare (promises from aspiring politicians do not count, particularly those running for President); if you are waiting for the silver bullet or magic potion, then I can promise you one thing: you will wait forever. The only person who has the right "special" interest, who will watch out for his or her money carefully, and who has the need for health care services is you.

The best person to "practice medicine" on Healthcare is us, together.