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A Peek Behind the Medical Curtain

Posted Jan 01 2009 12:00am
This blog launches today, but it’s been germinating in my mind for at least 10 years. I am a full time physician for 20 years and have seen the good, the bad and the just plain ridiculous. I’ve finally decided to blow the whistle. These postings will take readers ‘behind the curtain’ to see an insider’s view of the medical profession. I warn you – much of it is not pretty.

My purpose is not to highlight physician billing scams or outright fraud, although if reader comments lead the conversation there, I will respond. I will concentrate instead on what has gone wrong with legitimate medical care in America. There is not a day in my practice that I don’t confront another symptom of our broken health care system, and I am only 1 doctor. Imagine what the collective observations and anecdotes of our nation’s physicians would amount to. I hope that we hear from some of them. It is staggering how much excessive, inappropriate and unnecessary medical care is delivered – nearly all of it justified by skilled medical professionals. Why does this happen?

Obviously, there is superb medical care in this country. However, focusing on our flaws and failures is essential if we are to ultimately reform and reengineer the medical system. So, while some may decry this ‘whistle blowing’ as another whining doctor, I reject this. I’m going negative with the hope to create knowledge and momentum to move us forward. Clearly, one lone blog can’t prevail against an entrenched medical establishment, but grass roots efforts all started with just a single blade.

Consider the following anecdote from my own practice.

Last month, I arrived at my hospital, a state-of-the-art medical institution, to perform a medical procedure on a patient. One day previously, I had requested that a surgical assistant from the operating room assist me. These are trained medical personnel who assist surgeons in complex operations every day. The gentleman was present at the appointed time in surgical dress. I was about to begin and he remarked, “you’d better talk me through this, doc, I’ve never done one of these.”

Next posting I’ll share what occurred and give another patient care vignette that you won’t find in your hospital’s glitzy PR announcements.
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