A million doctors on fire, three million scorched nurses beside them, burned out as the flames progress.
POETRY of the Times
In the sixties, progress looked like men
on the moon and cars with seatbelts,
GE’s slogan proclaiming, “Progress
is our most important product!”
Flash forward sixty years and medical
progress is clear: precision scans,
robotic surgery, our clinical work
still documented by progress notes.
But shift the accent from first syllable
to second, and tumors progress
to kill their hosts, the way EHRs
have progressed, their key-clatter
drowning out each patient’s voice,
our work never finished, charts clicked
past midnight until every billable
data crumb is scraped off the table
for payment, LED screens as cool
as silver coins, a million doctors on fire,
three million scorched nurses beside them,
burned out as the flames progress.
Dr Berlin is Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA. ❒