Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Doctors are like Convicts
"They make you feel like a convict" is what doctors say about the people, commissions, agencies and departments we must answer to, every month, for the rest of our lives, or be stripped of the right to practice medicine (as well as the ability to earn a living). Every doctor lives under continuous scrutiny from federal, state, hospital, insurance company, specialty board, medico-legal, and professional conduct organizations. Hundreds of pages of forms must be filled out, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, hundreds of hours of study and examination must be completed every year — just to stay in practice — and that's after Board Certification, a process at then end of ten years of intense training, study, work and examination.
Each of these burdens is placed on the doctor in the name of "protecting the public", but everyone in the medical business knows the plain truth: that not one of these actually helps us treat patients, not one makes us better doctors. You become a better doctor when you notice patterns, when you get out of your own way enough to hear real complaints and treat them. You might scrub in with a friend who does a new procedure, go to an interesting course (the good ones often don't give CME — mandated continuing medical education — credits) or you might become a better doctor in your room at night with your old books that you see in a new light because you've seen a certain case that day. Every doctor knows this: however it happens, professional growth does not take place via "administrative compliance." The public is not protected at all by these things. What they do protect is the livelihood of an entire class — the millions who make their livings in the public and private "administration" of American medicine. Do I want to feed my little girl to this beast? I don't think so.