Saturday, September 28, 2013

Are You Listening?

He was an expert in healthcare policy.  He wrote nationally lauded papers on such things as evidence based medicine.  He spent half his time in Washington advising one governmental agency or another, the other tucked away quietly at the VA.  Originally he attended at the University, but that didn't last long.

We residents avoided him at all costs.  Not only did he piss away our precious time with verbose and often tangentially related lectures, he was down right dangerous.  The head of internal medicine knew it; our chief resident knew it.  So schedules were shuffled, teams were adjusted.  Often the strongest housestaff were pulled to work on his team, and clean up the mess he made.

Years later, I now realize, that a number of poor unsuspecting veterans likely suffered by his clumsy hands.  Thankfully, someone of authority usually stepped in before irreversible damage occurred.  It was not that he didn't understand pathophysiology or differential diagnosis.  His deficit was far more worrisome,  he completely lacked in the art of medicine.  When a patient zigged, he zagged.  He flawlessly applied inappropriate and poorly timed algorithms in a rigid and ineffectual manner.

And worst of all, buoyed by all the back patting in Washington, he was utterly confident in his abilities.

Occasionally I still hear about him from time to time.  Prancing through political circles or spouting off on CNN.  His smile is wide and confident, but I will always remember his frown as a patient circled the drain, a victim of his misapplied "science".

And I shudder, shudder to think that the politicians who currently shape our healthcare policy are listening to him intently.


Anonymous said...

and there are still those kinds out there, giving the medical community a black eye. Sad to say but true.

Anonymous said...

And yet the medical profession continues to protect their own and do nothing about the incompetent ones in their midst. I'm supposed to feel sorry for you guys? Your normal exaggerated melodrama is bad enough, but this post is too much to bear reading.

Never Again said...

This attitude that you describe seems to be prevalent now that the government is taking over health care. Doctors now ask about your private life, gun ownership (like it's a disease) and all kinds of things other than what the patient is in for. I don't want to waste my time dealing with this...but apparently the government has assigned little demigod dictators to "nudge" patients into a rigid structure. The government calls them doctors.

The art of medicine is being rapidly replaced with a computer. Kind of like the way an auto mechanic (also an art form) has become a technician. He/she plugs a little computer into your car and reads the outcome. There is no art to this, and WORSE, the computer causes problems. The little sensors on my car are always going out. I have spent more money on sensors than on repairing the car.

So now my doctor will plug my body into a computer (metaphorically) and it will tell him/her what he/she SHOULD do. No variables, all that was taken care of upon data entry.

I find it depressing. I am going to try to save money for a trip to India for any surgery I may need. At least there, people like me can be treated outside the paradigm.