Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Peek Behind the Medical Curtain

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.

3 comments:

Zach Kirsch said...

Great Job! It's a real "whistle blower"!

Anonymous said...

You might save more people whistleblowing because what you write could eventually reach more numbers than you do in practice.

Most often when I read about medical fraud the focus is about money or billing. In the long haul, a money rip off is nothing compared to unnecessary harm or loss of life as a result of fraud.

Fraud is a word that other words get lost in and go too unnocticed. For instance, wouldn't you consider a child caught up in medical fraud a victim of child abuse? A person caught up in a medical scam a physical assault?

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

Appreciate your comment. I'll be satisfied if my Whistleblowing informs folks and stimulates some skepticism.

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