I’m enjoying reading some of the WebMD blogs. One blog in particular, Mad About Medicine, rants about many of the same issues discussed here. Here’s his take on defensive medicine:

Which brings us back to horses, zebras, and fears. The training of physicians stimulates the push to look for every diagnosis possible. This noble approach unfortunately is then exponentially exaggerated by the fear of lawsuits. Physicians are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” If the doctor orders too many tests he is wasting the few valuable resources in medicine. If he orders one too few, that will be the test that the medical malpractice lawyer (read that as SHPOS) will seize on and sue him for missing.

Concerning wasting resources in medicine- forget that criticism- the resources in medicine are going into the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical executives and shareholders. The private jet fuel bills from the CEO of Pfizer can pay for all of Medicare for the number of years equal to the half life of plutonium (~5700 years give or take a week or so). The second part about the lawyers is sad but true.

To quote the warden (played by Strother Martin) in Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” That failure is because everyone and their mother think they are doctors or nurses and knows better. Sometimes they do but most of the time they do not. Left to our own devices, doctors and nurses will do their best to help you. Diagnosing disease and treating patients with terrible, complex problems is hard enough than to have a politician devil (with his hand in the pocket of an insurance company) on one shoulder and a lawyer devil on the other.

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