Max Hodak Writings

Are you actually sick?

March 2020

One of my close friends is a doctor at a well known academic medical center. A long time ago, he told me that they’ll handle the actually sick patients quickly, but they put the not-sick patients in “the tent,” where wait times might be quite long.

I asked him what “actually sick” meant and he said, “likely to die in the next two hours.”

My experience has been that most doctors quickly categorize patients into those with “real problems” and everyone else. Even outside the emergency department context, this filters through their whole view of the world and every interaction many doctors have with patients. If you don’t have an obvious, immediately-treatable issue, medicine as a field largely has very little for you, and not only that, but they don’t even really see it as a valid area of expansion.

There is a huge opportunity in primary care. I hope it is realized soon.