You can count on doctors like no other group to fight any kind of change. Whether it's trying to prevent <a href="http://www.heall.com/body/healthupdates/vitamins/doctorsbiastowardsvitamins.html">"alternative"</a> medicinal practices from horning in on their business, or adopting <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/132624.php">new technologies</a>, doctors have shown they'll put their vested interests ahead of the common good.

Michael Hickins, Contributor

March 4, 2009

2 Min Read

You can count on doctors like no other group to fight any kind of change. Whether it's trying to prevent "alternative" medicinal practices from horning in on their business, or adopting new technologies, doctors have shown they'll put their vested interests ahead of the common good.Now comes a report that doctors are trying to gag patients by requiring them to promise they won't rate them online. According to an Associated Press story, a North Carolina neurosurgeon has turned this truculent state of mind into a business.

His company, Medical Justice, is based in Greensboro, N.C. For a fee, it provides doctors with a standardized waiver agreement. Patients who sign agree not to post online comments about the doctor, "his expertise and/or treatment."

The waiver allows Medical "Justice" to get ratings sites to remove critical comments by patients who have signed. When those sites allow anonymous posting, they won't remove critical comments, but sites that identify reviewers feel compelled to comply.

Despite what people are saying, this isn't a First Amendment issue; government isn't blocking free speech. It is, however, typical of a profession that will go to any lengths to protect even its poorest-performing members, people who actually bring discredit to their profession, for the sake of their what they consider as their prerogatives.

Hospitals reacted the same way when states and nonprofits began providing online performance scorecards.

Hospital administrators essentially argued that medical people are magicians practicing an art so complex that no one is smart enough to properly measure them.

But the scorecards show just a limited number of commonly accepted metrics, such as whether they automatically give aspirin to heart attack victims.

You'd think it would be easy for every hospital to ace that one, but performances vary wildly. For instance, New York Downtown Hospital in Manhattan follows the protocol only 78% of the time. St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, 86% of the time. The national average for this measure is 96%.

Don't you think this is something you should know about when choosing a hospital?

But health care providers think we, the general public, are too dumb to make sense of this complicated mumbo-jumbo.

I know the Obama administration wants to bring the heath care system into the 21st century, but the industry will fight the effort tooth and nail. But it's a fight worth fighting: Health care represents more than 16% of the country's GDP, and 50% of health care costs are borne by the federal government via Medicaid and Medicare.

Read more about:

20092009

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like


More Insights