Like most other areas in the United States, the healthcare industry is oftentimes more influenced by politics that many people may realize. Whether directly or indirectly, doctors are faced with political decisions that, at times, can have a direct impact of a patient’s care. Knowing this, it is important for patients to understand how politics can potentially affect the way a doctor treats them.

Stricter Prescription Laws
With so much focus on the opioid epidemic across the United States in recent years, it does not come as a surprise to learn that new laws have been implemented to try and gain control of the problem. To be more specific, laws have been passed that changes how doctors are allowed to prescribe narcotic medication to both acute and chronic pain patients. For example, in some states, any patient that receives their initial prescription for narcotic medication will only be able to receive up to seven days worth of medication, a stark difference from the typical 30-day supply. This not only affects the doctors and their ability to help a patient enduring pain, but it also may end up making it more difficult for patients to receive pain relief.

Abortion
Doctors and physicians across a variety of specialties will likely work with a female patient that has either had an abortion, or is thinking about an abortion, at some point in their careers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the political affiliation of the doctor influenced how he would proceed with the patient. For example, a study done by Yale researchers found that Republican doctors who meet with a woman that has had a previous abortion were twice as likely to discourage future abortions, even if that was the patient’s primary need.

Recreational Marijuana
In addition to their differing outlooks on abortions, the study also found that doctors with different political affiliations had different outlooks on the use of recreational marijuana. For example, republican doctors who treated a patient that used recreational marijuana were 64 percent more likely to discuss the legal risks of its use, while 47 percent of republican doctors disclosing that they would urge the patient to reduce the amount they use.

When taking a look at the political issues within medicine, it is not surprising to see that doctors of different political backgrounds will likely have different responses and treatment plans for their patients. Knowing that politics can impact how one’s doctor feels regarding a more controversial topic will allow patients to be more prepared to discuss their own wishes, void of politics.