Friday, October 08, 2004

Doctors in chains: How to escape from the HMO gulag

When you think of chain gangs, Parchman Farm comes to mind -- not your local medical center.

But let's look at this from a typical American doctor's point of view. "I spent over half a million dollars going to med school," stated Dr. 831590. "I wanted to help people. Now I'm chained to an assembly line that produces a new patient every 15 minutes. Workers at Ford plants in Mexico have an easier job. Have you ever tried to cure anybody in 15 minutes?" That's slave labor!

That's like expecting someone to hit the bulls eye at 50 paces on a moving target the size of an ant! No wonder malpractice insurance costs so much.

Instead of wallowing in the joy of curing patients, doctors come home worried and exhausted. "Every night I just lie there and worry that I probably gave someone the wrong pills." What kind of a life is that? No golf for these guys.

One-third of all the money we spend on health care goes to administrative bureaucrats. One third. "We don't even have auriscopes, stethoscopes and Band Aids," said one Children's Hospital intern, "yet the HMO execs are getting paid outrageous sums."

According to Patch Adams, "Medicine practiced as a business hurts everyone.... Doctors are not mechanics fixing breakdowns but gardeners nurturing growth.... If we operate a hospital where staff is always burnt out, patients are going to be burnt out too."

In the American medical gulag system, doctors are living the hard-knock life and patients have become human bar codes -- while the uninsured have nothing at all. And nobody is getting better except the HMOs and their friends in Congress and the White House.

What to do? I call on every doctor in America to throw off their chains, go on strike (January 1? This would be a great way to start the New Year) and not go back to work until they are once again free to practice real medicine.

Doctors need to start rattling their cages and start remembering that HMOs cannot survive without them. The tail has got to stop wagging the dog.

And, speaking of good medicine, what ever happened to house calls?


Patch Adams and the Gesundheit! Institute (where laughter IS the best medicine)

10,000 People in U.S. Work in Forced Labor [Doctors too?]

From Liz regarding not having enough doctors for all the Bush wars: A drafting of medical personnel is going to kill medical care in this country, and will put a crimp in the desire of people to become doctors and nurses unless they are safely past draft age.