I Hate Doctors
by Burton S. Blumert
by Burton S. Blumert
Burt: "You've been my physician for over 25 years. You can't just dump me like you would a broken heart-lung machine."
Doc: "There's no room for sentiment in medicine, and frankly, your quaint right-wing viewpoints aren't as interesting as they once were. I'm turning your medical records over to young Dr. Kaloofka from my office."
Burt: "But Kaloofka doesn't speak English, and I've never heard of a doc, or anybody for that matter, who keeps a venomous giant lizard as an office pet."
Doc: "You're always making mountains out of millstones. As for Kaloofka, he has become a star with my female employees. They're all smiling a lot and humming ditties from the Pakistani hit parade."
Burt: "What about loyalty? It was because of you that I joined 'Californians Against Midwifery.' I haven't missed a meeting in two years, and although I have no idea why, they just elected me secretary/treasurer of the district. And what about those thousands of buttons I own that say 'Chiropractic Isn't Christian'?"
Doc: "Humphhhh." (He grumbles, undecipherable).
Burt: "I could have sued you back in '97 when your lab mistakenly diagnosed me as having cholera."
Doc: "Most people would have seen humor in that."
Burt: (Voice choked with emotion). "Things aren't so funny when the county board of health puts you under quarantine, but the worst indignity was when you forgot me in an examination room. I spent that weekend locked in, with no clothes, a very cold bench, and nothing to read but the Spring 1988 edition of 'Living The Good Life With A Partial Colon.'"
Doc: "Sure, Blumert, you've been OK at times, but you came up empty when we asked for volunteers to firebomb the health food store that sold that profane book, 'Good Health Equals No Doctors'."
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Being advised by my semi-retiring family physician that I was no longer his patient reminded me that, basically, I hate doctors.
Nothing personal: I also dislike lawyers and bureaucrats, major and minor, and anybody who has anything to do with the tax code.
Only "physicians" from the list above claim "victim status," however, and seek out conservative/libertarian thinkers to articulate their interests and link them with free-market principles. That's okay. We all do better in an environment free of government intrusion but my physician friends think that they have "special" victim status and that their grievances are unique.
A visit to any "hard money" financial conference or freedom-oriented seminar will find docs well represented, shoulder-to-shoulder with the other freedom fighters. The docs are decent, well-intentioned guys who "talk a good game," but when it comes to their day-to-day practice of medicine, they thoroughly enjoy the benefits their State license affords them.
The socialist virus seems inexorable, and reversing that flow is difficult. If any group has the wherewithal to smash the evil trend toward socialized medicine, it would be the docs themselves. Their AMA has enormous influence in every legislative body in the nation. Add to that the power inherent in their medical associations at the state and county level, and doctors can accomplish anything.
We have coddled doctors long enough. They can't keep blaming government agencies, HMOs, and third-party payers for all their deficiencies. It's widely perceived that patients have low expectations when they have to arrange an appointment with a physician. The patient finds indifference, rudeness, and would have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles to find comparable attitudes.
Particularly objectionable is what happens when a medical office employee becomes expert in every medical specialty. The patient must convince this high priestess their condition warrants an appointment with the doctor. Doctor friends insist that American medical care is the best in the world. It's also said that Americans are the freest people in the world. Neither statement provides total assurance.
The entire American medical delivery system can do better, but it will take a sea change in the attitude of the average doc.
The four questions below present a hard cynical critique of the status of the health care industry.
How would you like to be in a business where one-half of your customers are addicted to chemicals but can't obtain them without express permission from you?
How would you like to be in a business where the companies who produce the chemicals require your endorsement for the success of their product? Payola becomes the way of life for every physician. He is provided with free samples, junkets to resorts all over the world and other worldly pleasures beyond the imagination of the layman.
How would you like to be in a business where the moment some competitive force is evident, all guns are turned towards that threat? Competitors are marginalized and often face criminal charges with some level of government acting as enforcer.
How would you like to be in a business where substandard performance caused by drunkenness, laziness or plain old criminality often escapes proper notice?
The great medical curmudgeon, Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD, author of Confessions of a Medical Heretic (Warner Books, 1980), spent the latter years of his life goring medical sacred cows. He once pointed out that "Historically, when doctors have gone on strike, the mortality rate has dropped." Indeed, a friend and former medical editor remembers a doctors' strike in Israel that only ended when the undertakers picketed the medical association headquarters. Their business was being hurt!
May 11, 2000
Burt Blumert (1929—2009) was owner of Camino Coins, president of the Center for Libertarian Studies, chairman of the Mises Institute, publisher of LewRockwell.com, and the author of Bagels, Barry Bonds, & Rotten Politicians.
Copyright © 2000 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.