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After watching Muffie Meyer’s documentary, you’re going to be sure of at least one thing.
When you have your first heart attack, assuming you survive it, you’ll want to be treated at NYC’s Mount Sinai Hospital, preferably by doctors Valentin Fuster and Herschel Sklaroff.
These veteran cardiologists are the heart and soul of Making Rounds, which advocates for the not so revelatory idea that doctors and residents should actually, gasp, communicate with their patients. And that’s exactly what happens in the course of the documentary, which follows the two doctors making rounds in the hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit while accompanied by their young acolytes.
Decrying the practice of today’s doctors who spend less time actually interacting with their patients than tapping away at their computers, Fuster, the hospital’s Physician-in-Chief, practices what he preaches. It’s positively heartwarming, pardon the pun, to watch him and Sklaroff making gentle inquiries of their often desperately ill patients, more than a few of whom have suffered misdiagnoses in the course of their tortured medical history.
The film concentrates on several such patients, including a man suffering from heart failure who refuses treatment; a young woman awaiting a heart transplant; and a man whose life-threatening sleep apnea went undetected for years.
Hypochondriacs would do well to avoid this film, which doesn’t exactly present a reassuring picture of the current state of our health care system. We’re informed that some $700 billion is spent annually on medical tests and procedures that often do little to affect patient outcomes, with nearly 20 percent yielding misdiagnoses.
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Meyer, whose credits include co-directing and co-editing the classic Grey Gardens, largely employs a fly-on-the-wall approach here that sometimes makes for less than compelling viewing. Nonetheless, the film earns points for the importance of its message, which seems to be getting lost in this era of increasingly impersonal medicine. We’ll never go back to the days of house calls and personal relationships between doctors and patients. But perhaps we can at least remember that the latter represent more than mere charts of information and opportunities for billing.
Director: Muffie Meyer
Producers: Richard Brick, Muffie Meyer
Director of photography: Bob Richman
Editor: Sharon Sachs
Composer: Richard Einhorn
Not ratged, 88 min.
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