Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tom Daschle is oblivious to patient safety

Okay, my first question is what is the White House "Office of Health Reform"? This is apparently a part of the "change" that Barak Obama promised/threatened us.

After Daschle suffered a solid defeat for re-election of his United States Senate seat, he apparently has tried to re-create himself by becoming a health care guru. Daschle wrote a book last year entitled "Crisis." And of course, it always helps to have some powerful business men with absolutely no medical education to help design a plan with you. Enter the CEO of Medco, David Snow, Jr.

According to Daschle's book,
Most of the world’s highest-ranking health-care systems employ some kind of 'single-payer' strategy - that is, the government, directly or through insurers, is responsible for paying doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers."

Daschle acknowledged the arguments that single-payer is simple, equitable, provides everyone with the same benefits, and saves billions of dollars through economies of scale and simplified administration. But single-payer is "politically problematic" and demonized as “socialized medicine,” even though polls show more satisfaction with Medicare than private insurance (according to Daschle).

Daschle explains that a Federal Health Board would establish the framework and fill in the details. The board would be both "insulated from political pressure" and "accountable to elected officials and the American people." The Board would promote “high-value” medical care by recommending drugs and procedures backed by solid evidence.
God help us. Is this the direction our country really wants to go?

As a country, we really need to back away from the "everyone deserves health care" and ask ourselves to define "health care." Most Americans wrongly believe that "health care" under the Obama administration will include every test, procedure, medication, surgery that is medically necessary and appropriate.

The problem is that HHS Secretary (nominee) Tom Daschle and his businessman buddy Mr. David Snow, Jr. (CEO of Medco) would leave the task of defining "medically necessary and appropriate" to a federal board. Your care and treatment will not be determined by your physician or surgeon. In fact, your physicians will not be paid if they dare to deviate from a federal board's "cookbook" of mandated medical treatment. (i.e. If "A" and "B", then "C"). Of course, the federal board has a carrot to dangle in front of any concerned physicians - so long as the physician abides by the federal "cookbook," an injured patient will not be allowed to sue.

You can just imagine Daschle and David Snow, Jr. thinking, the physicians will be on board because they will finally get their "tort reform." (The tort reform could be effectuated easier if medical boards actually disciplined bad doctors.)

But, of course, once again, who is looking out after the patients' safety and continuity of care? Certainly not the Obama administration. Injured patients are already effectively prevented from bringing lawsuits against dangerous doctors. The AMA and other professional medical organizations (such as the ASOS) actually threaten their member physicians from testifying against defendant physicians. (Testifying is considered by the AMA to be "practicing medicine" and exposes physicians to libel suits and professional discipline.)

I feel like a broken record but these points are critical to the viability of the medical profession in this country:

1. Physicians must take back their profession from the businessmen (such as David Snow, Jr., CEO of Medco) and political hacks (such as Tom Daschle). These people have an agenda. For Snow, it is pure and simple money. On the other hand, Daschle is a defeated Senator. Daschle desperately needs to validate his own ego. he has nothing else to do with his life under than get back into politics. But, remember, his own state defeated him for a reason!

2. Physicians must stop protecting "bad doctors." If your patient has been injured by negligent medical care, then you as a physician must protect your patient and not the doctor who frankly is part of the marginalization of your profession. For example, not everyone is cut out to be an orthopedic surgeon. As with stopping Daschle and David Now, Jr (Medco), part of taking back your profession is to stop allowing the "quacks" and those with poor clinical judgment to remain with the title "orthopedic surgeon."

As physicians and surgeons, you should ask your medical organizations (AMA, ASOS, etc), do you support the Daschle proposal. If the AMA is truly lobbying in Washington, DC for the benefit of the physicians, then the answer should be a resounding "NO." Similarly, if the AMA supports Daschle and his idea of a federal board setting treatment protocols then you physicians should reconsider what the purpose of the AMA truly is.

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