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Showing posts from November, 2010

Electronic Medical Records: Medical Malpractice Shield or Magnet?

Several posts on this blog have been devoted to tort reform . More than any other subject, this topic generates more heat than light. Indeed, I describe these debates and commnets on this blog and elsewhere as duels, not discussions.  Many folks on various sides of this issue earnestly believe that they have the better argument. Other viewpoints are not purely held and are clearly contaminated by self-interest. I have written repeatedly that I believe that the current system is unfair and does not serve the public well. The public understands the issues and the controversies. In general, I don’t think most Americans believe that we have too few lawyers or lawsuits in this country. It is astonishing that people can defend a medical liability system that           Misses the vast majority of patients injured by medical negligence           Ensnares many more innocent physicians than negligent ones. Shouldn’t these two inarguable facts be sufficient to demand at least an examinat

Big Tobacco - The Government's Favorite Scapegoat

Smokers of the world unite! It’s strange for a physician to be sympathizing with the tobacco companies, purveyors of the opium of the people. Am I a stealth nicotine addict, an apologist for Big Tobacco who supplies me with my daily fix? This scurrilous allegation can be vaporized in a one-question quiz. Identify which two of the three individuals listed below are cigarette smokers. John Boehner, newly elected Speaker of the House , 3rd in line to the presidency Barack Obama, Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world Michael Kirsch, Hemorrhoid examiner I’ve never smoked and I detest the habit. It kills people and separates lower income Americans from money that could likely be devoted to more worthwhile endeavors. I remember caring for folks with end stage emphysema as a medical resident and thinking that this disease was worse than cancer. I haven’t changed my mind. Yet, I have felt for years that Big Tobacco is demonized by the press and the government as Big Scapegoa

Health Care ‘Reform’ Reforms Legislature

Thank you, Obamacare. The GOP, demoralized and frustrated, as they endured the Obama liberal juggernaut that trampled across the country these past 2 years, has been resuscitated. It’s more fun to be in the majority, as Nancy Pelosi can recall. Democratic hubris and rising public disapproval provided not just a strong wind, but a tornado, behind the GOP’s backs. Obviously, there’s nothing revolutionary here, as midterm elections tend to favor the minority, with rare exceptions. What is noteworthy here is the depth of disapproval with the current administration’s policies, affecting every demographic. The gains that the Republicans achieved, particularly in the House, have left Democrats numb and glum. Whistleblower readers will not be shocked to learn that I did not vote for Obama in 2008, but I was inspired by him. I wanted to believe that he would be the transformational figure that his campaign promised and that the country desperately needed. In particular, I was moved by his s

Can CAT Scans Prevent Lung Cancer? Smoke and Mirrors

I still marvel at the accomplishments of CAT scans and imaging studies.   These technologies have revolutionized the medical profession.   Imagine foretelling 50 years ago that a new technology would emerge that could perform ‘exploratory surgery’ without an incision.    This prediction would be greeted with disbelief, if not scoffing.   Of course, there would be similar reactions if decades ago other technological feats, such as fax machines, personal computers, emails and internet, were predicted. CAT scans save patients’ lives, prevent surgeries, make accurate diagnoses and refine treatment plans.   This is the good news.   However, as expressed repeatedly on this blog, there is a darker side of the story. Without doubt, too many CAT scans are performed. Accumulated medical radiation has health consequences. Resources expended on unnecessary CAT scans could be devoted to worthy health care endeavors Radiologists suffer from litigophobia and identify every tiny abnormality, whic