Published January 24, 2011
Will President Obama's State of the Union address make physicians happy? No.
I've always considered myself an optimist, but after taking bureaucratic beat downs day-in and day-out, I can only assume things are not going to get better any time soon. And that is my expectation for Tuesday's presidential address.
Yes, I would like to have a totally different health care reform bill, since the current one does not address the significant bureaucratic and inefficient way medicine is practiced today.
Medical costs are out of control -- and not because doctors are making all the money. As a matter of fact, a lot of young physicians cannot even make ends meet considering their insurmountable amounts of educational debt. At the same time, older doctors can't afford to retire. Physicians are people too. We feel many of the same hardships everyone else experiences in a tough economy.
The costs of running medical practices are astronomical. Between supplies, rent, employee benefits, and yes, malpractice insurance, there are many expenses. It's true, the cost of health care for the consumer is out of control, but the government is not helping.
Americans want the latest technology and the newest drugs.
Hmmm . . . I have a headache, let me go to a neurologist to get a CAT scan and get my brain checked out. Then I'll get the newest, strongest pain reliever. Never mind going to my primary care physician to check my blood pressure and tell me to take a couple of aspirin and relax. But wait -- what if he misses something? Oh that's right, I'll just sue.
Malpractice is out of control and it does not matter who you talk to in government, they just don't seem to care -- especially this administration. Tort reform? Yeah right. I remember when this president said he was going to "look into it." Well, we're still waiting.
And what gets me the most, is not just the fact that people are filing these suits, but the way they shop around for a lawyer creative enough to take the case.
As an obstetrician, I cannot tell you how much this is hurting our profession. For us, the worst suits are for wrongful birth. This is when a child is born with a disability that the doctor had no control over. Nature and genetics sometimes bring diseases that are impossible to predict -- yet parents must blame someone: the doctor.
You should have known, doctor. If you had, choices would have been made so that we would not have to bear this crisis.
I understand their pain. But it's not the doctor's fault. These types of malpractice suits bare no relevance as to the quality of any physician. Yet, they continue to grow. And these down economic times have only exacerbated a problem that has been plaguing the medical community for years.
So I ask again: Will President Obama's speech make doctors happy? I doubt it, but I would love to hear what you have to say.