McDonaldization: Health in A Fastfood Society EssayMcDonaldization, is the term Ritzer derived from the McDonalds’ fastfood chain to describe the state of our society. Ritzer claims our socialinstitutions have become completely dehumanized in the form of a bureaucracy. Health care is an example of one institution that is characterized by the fourcomponents of bureaucracy: efficiency, predictability, control andquantification. In the past, health care was more simplistic in nature. House callswere no unheard of, and doctors knew all of their patients and their families ona personal level.
The doctor who delivered your parents would deliver you aswell as your future children. Follow-ups were quite normal; doctors wereconcerned with your progress for their own peace of mind. Over time the modern health care system emerged into the bureaucraticorganization that it is. All the characteristics depicted by Ritzer are easilyseen when one examines health care. From a normal trip to the doctor for aroutine check-up or even a specific ailment to rush trip in the emergency roompredictability, control, efficiency, and quantification are obvious. Quantification is easily seen when you first step into a hospitalwaiting room and a huge sign tells you a number before you are even able tospeak to anyone.
After waiting a while your number is called, you must giveyour health card number to the receptionist before continuing. You are thengiven a file number, which is your only identity for the time you spend withinthe hospital environment. After seeing the doctor you may come out with a fewprescriptions which furthers your nameless ordeal. When you drop namelessordeal.
When you drop into a pharmacy to have a prescription filled the firstthing they ask is if you know your prescription number. If you cannot rememberit, your actual name is a secondary possibility as a means of identification. Before paying you may have to show your Blue Cross card number or otherinsurance cards as well, in all it is a very dehumanizing, impersonal process. Efficiency is another characteristic that is prominent in the hospitalsituation. To make sure things more smoothly you must call ahead and make anappointment with the receptionist.
This appointment is to avoid long lines ofpeople waiting to see the doctor. When making rounds a doctor goes from eachexamining room to another where patients are already waiting. After assessingone patient the doctor visits another one while the nurses bring another oneinto the empty room. Hospitals are also very time efficient.
By having nurses make apreliminary examination (temperature, pulse rate, etc. ) simple cases like theflu can be diagnosed without having to wait to see the busy doctor. This savesthe patient from having to wait for a long time as well as giving the doctormore time to look at priority cases. Another area efficiency is necessary is at the pharmacy. By callingahead to have a prescription filled long lines can be avoided, or in some placesyou can have them delivered to your home with little hassle.
Predictability is a big characteristic. Everyone knows what happenswhen you go see a doctor. First you go to the receptionist to fill out thenecessary papers and inform them you have arrived. You must then wait until anurse comes into the waiting room and announces, “The doctor will see you now”. Most times this is not true, it really means I, the nurse will take yourtemperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure. Just like a robot the nurse will measure vital signs and note herfindings with as little conversation as possible.
After the nurse leaves youmust wait until the doctor comes in with the nurse’s recordings in her hand. The doctor then asks a variation of that same old question, “What seems to bethe problem today?”You then proceed to list off all of your symptoms and wait for adiagnosis. The doctor either gives you a prescription or advice to stay in bedand drink lots of fluids. If it is necessary she may request further testingsuch as blood work or x-rays as she sees fit.
If you need further treatment you basically go through the same routineon another day with different people. When prescriptions are required you getthe prescription filled, pay a lot of money (unless you have a drug plan oradditional medical coverage), and listen to the same warnings about finishingall of the prescriptions, side-affects, the dangers of interacting drugs .