Aug. 26, 2022

Getting an appointment with primary care is the Achilles’ heel of medicine

"'Doctor, it’s taken so long to get this appointment with you!' This is the opening line of so many medical visits, and I find myself constantly apologizing to my patients on behalf of our system. After the pandemic-induced lull in routine medical...


"'Doctor, it’s taken so long to get this appointment with you!' This is the opening line of so many medical visits, and I find myself constantly apologizing to my patients on behalf of our system. After the pandemic-induced lull in routine medical care, we’re right back where we started—doctors booked for months, patients struggling to get appointments.

The difficulty with access to medical care is endemic to our entire medical system. Even before the pandemic, less than a fifth of American doctors were able to take new patients, and more than 80 percent were at capacity or over-extended. Some 16,000 medical practices closed down because of the pandemic. This is especially concerning in primary care, which is on track for a shortage of up to 48,000 physicians. It’s not surprising that lack of access to primary care doctors is associated with higher mortality."

Danielle Ofri is an internal medicine physician and editor-in-chief, Bellevue Literary Review, and is the author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error.

She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, "Getting an appointment with primary care is the Achilles’ heel of medicine."

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