The legal system has serious problems, but who are we to complain?

I have never been involved in a medical malpractice case, but I have recently been the victim of a sociopathic legal abuse situation entirely not related to medicine. It involves a no-good attorney with the ethics of a camel, a multiply convicted felonious sociopath, and his long series of victims including his own prison guards who he is suing because his feelings were hurt.

As my small part of it, I have had to accumulate huge legal expenses from my side. I have asked my attorney how he can tolerate a legal system that allows itself to be the tool of a manipulative sociopath against the innocent, and why he doesn’t do something to eject from the legal profession the no-good complicit attorney, who knows his client is a sociopath and joins him in lying across the board.

But do I have credible ground to stand on in my complaint to my attorney? Can I tell my attorney his system sucks and he should be embarrassed by it?  How about I first look at my own house, my own profession?

In the law, the client knows how much he is going to have to pay to his attorney per hour of work, even if he despises that the work needs to be done. In medicine, our patients don’t have a clue what they will be billed, and we cannot tell them.

In the legal system, a client can readily find a lawyer who will charge a lower hourly rate. In the medical system, there is essentially no price-based competition, profound moral hazard, our hourly rates are broadly unknown, and pay is controlled by CMS and CPT codes and a morass of insane price controls that is incomprehensible and unethical and impossible to be sure of.

In the legal system, an attorney bills for the time he works to assist his client. In the medical system we bill our clients not just for what we do to help them, but also for the cost of the administrative support staff, coders and compliance officials whose job is to twist the order of codes to maximize how much our patient has to pay us.

In the legal system, a client can choose to represent himself. In the medical system, our patients aren’t even allowed to obtain their own cholesterol lowering drug without our approval, and if they dare try to buy them from abroad, they are deemed criminal and may be subjected to the legal system.

The legal system’s victims at least have the time to think, to plan, to comprehend. The medical system’s victims often are sick, miserable, and are entirely at our mercy. The legal system provides the potential for cost transparency. The medical system? None.

I am not forced to buy legal insurance. I am forced to buy health insurance.

The legal system is horrific and evil and destructive to the innocent.  Our medical system, layered with insurance companies, lack of transparency, unnecessary controls of patient freedom to obtain medications, and compulsion to buy health insurance to fill the crony-corporate coffers of a sick industry, is so much worse.

I have no credibility to complain to my attorney that the legal system sucks and lacks ethics.  Mine is worse.

But I have now left my system in the dirt, because of the system’s lack of ethics. So, now I can have the higher ground. And maybe my writing can help make the changes.

I wrote a funny novel called ASSUME THE PHYSICIAN to help us all see where our medical system is not just poor, but ethically unacceptable, like the legal field. I hope that a satirical novel to which we all can assuredly relate might help us get on the same page regarding the loss of the simple honesty and ethics of the profession we love and that is so worthy of admiration. We must first know to laugh at it, before we can fix it.

I hope my lawyer someday gets to laugh at his horrible legal system the same we must learn to laugh at our horrible medical system.

John F. Hunt is a physician and author of ASSUME THE PHYSICIAN: Modern Medicine’s “Catch-22″.

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  • Thomas D Guastavino

    Since everyone is convinced that socialized medicine will lead to some sort of medical nirvana perhaps we should to the same to law. Under socialized law every citizen would be guaranteed access to high quality, low cost legal representation. Lawyers would be forced to accept every client and every case regardless of the validity of the case or amount they would be paid. Better still, pay them a fixed amount to represent a fixed number of clients. Like medicine, if they were to provide the highest quality, lowest cost representation they could keep the difference. Bribe them to put in Electronic Legal Records but only pay if they put in every bit of useless information just as long as the information can be accessed at any time.
    Once medicine and law become socialized, and we see what a resounding success it has become, we can expand the system to other areas of the economy. Socialized auto, home, food sounds good to me. Wait, don’t we already have that?

    • Margalit Gur-Arie

      Yes, we do to a large extent. The price of milk is regulated and so are the prices of other food staples, and water and electricity, and to a large extent gas at the pump.
      Also nobody is suggesting socialized medicine, where doctors are employed by the State. If you want to evaluate the difference between “socialized” insurance and privatized insurance, you need look no further than traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, which is more expensive and is currently busy firing thousands of doctors from their networks (arbitrarily), while regular Medicare members can see any doctor they want.

      Another point worth noticing is that the bar association does not allow law firms to be owned by non-attorneys because of perceived ethical conflicts. Attorneys can only be paid or be employed by their clients. Perhaps this one “little thing” could have made a huge difference in medicine, if the AMA would have had the same foresight.

      • John Hunt

        I don’t see the AMA as a consistent ally of patient or doctor. I see them as the crony friend of the doctors to try to keep monopoly over much of the field of medicine. I suppose they do try to battle against socialized medicine some, but then they support crony-corporatism plenty. The CPT codes are a horrible thing they foist on us– a tool of control! . BAH HUMBUG!!!

  • JPedersenB

    Glad that someone in the medical industry has noticed all of this! As the old saying goes, “Physician, heal thyself.” There are many others but I won’t quote them all here.
    It is time for doctors to take back their profession (what little is left of it) from the greedy special interests who are trying to squeeze as much money as possible from patients….

    • John Hunt

      I think doctors need to stop blowing off steam by groaning and complaining, but rather let the head of steam build so that it has so much more power. Blowing off steam is what “they” want us to do.

  • Dr. Drake Ramoray

    The lack of transparency is prevalent mostly at hospitals, large institutions, and for inpatient procedures. (Outpatient radioligy and semd out labs a bit of the exception). I can tell a patient in my office how much any test or visit will cost in about 30 seconds. (Including send out labs). When I asked how much my daughters ENT surgery would cost they told me before I left the building. (It was performed at an ambulatory surgery center. ) Only the big institutions and hospitals have no transparency. Same places that charge facility fees. Too bad the red tape and beuracracy is forcing doctors into the very arms of these players. The lack of price transparency is but a symptom of the consolidation and Walmartification of medicine.

    • John Hunt

      I am glad that there is transparency at your practice. Can I ask a question–At your practice , can you tell the patient what the PATIENT will pay, or is it only what the insurance company will pay, or rather that amount that you will BILL the insurance company for (but not what they will pay you)? Do you know what the out of pocket cost to the patient will be after insurance pays its “share”?

      How about the charges that a lab or radiology service (not connected with your pratice) will charge them? Prices of pharmaceuticals that you write prescriptions for?

      I am actually on a mission to seek out doctors willing to provide simple cash for service, with up front low and rational prices, no insurance interactions, no insurance overhead, no insurance hyperinflation, etc…

      I just got a bill from my own university clinic for my son. $467 for just the labwork–a monospot and a strep test. The insurance company had negotiated rates that amounted to $67 for those tests, which is what I had to pay. The insurance company paid NOTHING, but I got the benefit of the negotiated rate that was 15% of the billed rate. the uninsured get nailed with the $467 rate, and that craziness is what forces people into insurance, even more than Obamacare does….

      • Dr. Drake Ramoray

        Think my post got eaten by Disqus. My replies appear to now get reviewed (likely from a sarcastic post on a different thread). For the patient, after insurance, all labs including send outs if drawn here, nuc med, ultrasound, basically anything in house.

        Medications: Generics yes. Branded no (unless Synthroid). Insurance will make it all take a few minutes not the 30 seconds.

        Anything involving a coprorate CEO or the medical industrial complex (ie. hospial or big pharma). No not all, just like everyone else.

        This is a reason I’m thinking of thyroid only practice (+/- concierge model).

        • John Hunt

          There is not too much money in Washington; there is too much Washington for sale.

          Crony-corporatism can’t exist without the government portion of the “Government-XXXXX Industrial Complex”

          Time to shrink the government back down to TINY

          • Deceased MD

            then we’re left with Corporate America to back us up? I don’t know the solution either.

          • John Hunt

            No. We are left with free people, choosing voluntarily to work together to synergistically create new value, with no corporation/union/association having control over the government’s monopoly on the use of force, because the legal use of force will be exceedingly LIMITED. Right now, the government is the only organization allowed to use force to get their way. But corporations/unions/associations use the government’s force against others. That is crony-corporatism, or fascism, and that is our biggest enemy. Obama is a HUGE crony-corporatist–which should be very obvious to all. Most of the presidents have been for a long time. Dems, Republicans, it doesn’t matter…. the libertarians are the exceptions–libertarians are entirely opposed to crony corporatism.

  • Karen Ronk

    Whether you are talking about law or medicine, it seems that the power to make the rules is in the hands of an increasingly small group of often unethical or to be politically correct, morally challenged people. For all the new age talk of empowerment these days, we really do have less and less control of our lives.

    • John Hunt

      I could not agree more. The more groups (associations, corporations, unions, etc–so called special interests) take power over the ever-more-powerful bankrupt national government, the less power the individual has over our own lives. In some ways, the country is improving, but in other ways we are spiraling down horribly.

      • Deceased MD

        I read even on here some marketer had the gall to insert his belief that it was fine to market medicine. When I posted in reply a strong message back it got deleted by the powers that be.

        • John Hunt

          I don’t understand. Is it not okay in your view to market pharmaceuticals, devices, procedures?

  • John Hunt

    Hi Peary. I thank you for anything you can do to help get the work viral. I wrote ASSUME THE PHYSICIAN to get the information out in a way that keeps people LAUGHING but is still very informative, even of things that the doctors themselves are often unaware. Please spread the word as much as you can. Profits from the book are donated to Trusted Angels Foundation, which I co-founded for our work in Liberia, West Africa.

    I have the perhaps temporary luxury of having the time to write and publish what so many other doctors only have time to suffer and complain about in their so very limited free time.

  • John Hunt

    I am trying to find a specialty practice that will see a cash pay patient and not charge them outrageously. Very friendly, but the doctors defer to the administrators of their small practice. This is the response:

    “All of our lives would be so much easier if everyone paid cash for their healthcare and we did not have to worry about billing insurance or sending reports to CMS. We participate with Medicare, Medicaid and have contracts with various managed care plans that prohibit us from billing any patient less than our standard fee schedule. Everyone gets billed from the same fee schedule and we accept the contractual adjustment. We do not have the space, the staff to administer, nor the means to develop an income related sliding scale program which is the only way around our contract language. The hospitals do it but they also receive state funding I agree that penalizes the cash paying patient, but that is the system we have to deal with at present.”

    And so, we are powerless against our very selves….

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