Suzanne Gordon

Suzanne Gordon writes about health care, political culture, and women's issues. Her latest books are Nursing Against the Odds and From Silence to Voice. Her wepage can be found at http://www.suzannegordon.com/

Recent Articles

Families on Call

There are 25.8 million family caregivers in America today. According to a recent study by the United Hospital Fund of New York, they provide the equivalent of nearly $200 billion worth of health care services per year. That's almost double the annual amount the United States spends on nursing home and home health care. Yet when the press and the policy experts tally up the rising costs of a health care system in crisis, they routinely omit family caregivers' enormous contributions of time, energy, and emotional and financial resources--all of which are expended in the isolation of private homes. The resulting invisibility of family caregiving may be understandable, but undervaluing this critical component of our health care system is economically shortsighted and morally unacceptable. Given current demographic trends, a lot more of us are going to need more family care--and soon. Advances in public health, medical treatment, and nursing care have, in fact...

Nurse, Interrupted

It's May 13, the day after Florence Nightingale's birthday, and as part of the annual celebration of Nurses' Week--established in part to commemorate Nightingale's role in the development of professional nursing--members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association have asked me to speak to a group of registered nurses (RNs) at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care Campus in Worcester. Usually, such events are upbeat--occasions for flowery praise of America's largest predominantly female profession, which is also the largest profession in the health care system. Not today. The 30 or so middle-aged nurses who straggle into a bare auditorium look like they're attending a wake. In a sense, they are. These RNs entered the profession with high expectations and a strong sense of purpose several decades ago, but the field they work in is no longer either patient- or nurse-friendly terrain. The health care system has changed, and nurses like the weary ones at this...

It's All in Her Head

PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine, by Sally Satel, M.D. Basic Books, 256 pages, $27.00. Are you concerned about the fact that 44 million Americans lack health insurance and that millions of senior citizens are struggling to pay for medicine prescribed by their doctors? Are you troubled by the denial of necessary care by HMOs--or by other well-publicized abuses of "managed care?" Do hospital closings in your community make you worry about how long it will take to reach an emergency room if you ever have chest pains or an accident? Do you wonder what kind of treatment you'll receive in the hospital or a nursing home amidst a serious national nursing shortage? Well, Sally Satel--a psychiatrist and fellow of the American Enterprise Institute--has news for you: While these issues are "pressing," you're fretting about the wrong things. What's really hazardous to our health in America is a plague of "indoctrinologists." These are people who have "swooped in under the...

Doc Hollywood

P hysicians have always had a symbiotic relationship with Hollywood. From Lew Ayres in the 1930s Dr. Kildare films to Andre Braugher in Gideon's Crossing and Melina Kanakaredes in Providence, movie studios and TV networks have enlisted the support of individual doctors and their organizations to provide story ideas, expert advice, and, more recently, high-tech medical equipment and snappy jargon. As Joseph Turow documented in his book Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling and Medical Power, medicine has exacted a high price for its cooperation and seal of approval. Directors, producers, and screenwriters once were expected to portray doctors and their treatments in the best possible light, reinforce their conservative values, and support the kind of public policy and scientific agendas doctors favor. (For example, Hollywood mirrored organized medicine's opposition to so-called socialized medicine and downplayed the limitations or failures of expensive high-tech and experimental...