The truth of the matter is that a large degree of America's love/hate relationship with doctors is fueled primarily by our idealized notion of what a doctor should be. When asked to describe their vision of an ideal doctor, patients often use such words as "empathetic," "wise," "confident," "attentive," "brilliant," "dedicated," and "altruistic." But they want trust, friendliness, respect, honesty, timeliness, and sincerity, too.
That's an awfully high pedestal. And these expectations extend to physicians' lives and behavior outside the office as well.
How did we get here? Once upon a time, long ago (before third parties inserted themselves into medicine), we had the doctor and the patient. Alone. In one room. Many times, in a bedroom during a house call. The relationship between doctor and patient was undisturbed by layers of bureaucracy, faxes, and phone trees, uncorrupted by superbills and CPT codes.
This fairy-tale physician—our savior in a white coat—who will come to our aid any time of day or night lives in our collective consciousness. Doctors yearn to be heroes, and suffering patients seek a savior. We fulfill each other's core needs. After all, without patients, doctors couldn't exist.