Dethrone the Doctors

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My sister is about to undergo surgery for lymphatic and lung cancer. She is 43. Therefore, I was drawn to two stories in the news yesterday about doctors. Political focus should also be drawn onto these two stories. They are, Medical Boards Let Physicians Practice Despite Drug Abuse and After Stealing Drugs, Doctor Goes to Rehab. It is high time to dethrone these kings life and death.

Who wants their name associated with bad mouthing doctors? Let's face it, we are all going to need one eventually. Would any of us feel secure being grudged by the medical community at a time of need for medical attention? Regardless, the royal occupation of physician has too long enjoyed the double standards of law and policy. The laws of the United States are constitutionally to apply to all persons equally. When Doctors steal drugs for their personal use and are caught and reported to the Medical review boards, it is criminal that those peer review boards would respond by telling the thief they must enter rehabilitation to avoid other penalties.

This is illegal for a couple reasons. First, failure by the review boards to report this conduct to police, constitutes aiding and abetting a criminal in evasion of justice. Second, it is illegal because its is unequal application of the law. If a waitress is caught stealing drugs, she will go to jail. But if a doctor is caught for the same crime, they get help and assistance and never appear before the justice system. Finally, it should be a crime to permit an illegal drug using doctor to continue to carry the responsibility for life and death over their patients without their patients knowing the facts.

But there is an even darker side. Insurance premiums, tort reform and spiraling health care costs are all affected by these news stories. As Congress reviewed the causes for medical malpractice, they uncovered an interesting phenomena. A large number of malpractice suits were brought again and again against the same doctors. Could that phenomena be explained by drug and alcohol abusing doctors, in fact, guilty of malpractice? Oh no, say the conservatives who need malpractice costs to be the result of fraudulent claims in order to get their reform passed. Thus, they sweep the actual malpractice, perpetrated upon the innocent public, under the rug for political reasons. And finally, if these alcohol and drug abusing physicians were held accountable and removed from practice, would not malpractice suits drop and the adherent costs also drop? Why this cover-up continues is readily apparent.

It is plain to see that once again, putting doctors in charge of peer review for physician malfeasance is an idea that just does not work. And Americans are asked to give up their rights to sue these criminal doctors in class actions in the name of controlling health care costs. Congress did not investigate the legitimacy of the large number of medical law suits filed each year, nor did they investigate why it is the same doctors name reappear in suit after suit. So, not only are the peer review boards failing to represent the consumer's interests, but, Congress is complicit in this action as well.

They cover for each other like a secret brotherhood, and we the consumers of medical care in America get to play the lottery as to whether we will live or die at the hands of competent or incompetent Royalty called physicians. Doctors are not priests, kings, or saints. And somebody needs to start holding them to account to the same laws and punishments that the rest of us are subjected to. To allow doctors to have a favored status in the eyes of the law subverts our Constitution and breeds contempt amongst the population for experts and expertise. This cannot be healthy for our nation's future nor our own inevitable dependence upon a doctor at some point in our lives.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on April 10, 2005 8:29 AM.

Ignorance Not Bliss, Just Stupid was the previous entry in this blog.

Good Idea, Bad Bill - Bankruptcy reform is the next entry in this blog.

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