Monday, September 15, 2008


Originally posted at Random Dafydd.

Doctors are wealthy. No big surprise there, but given what they do most people don't begrudge them that. You want smart, skilled people to be there when you come into the ER at 3:00 AM with a heart attack, or stroke, or injury. The only way that will happen is if you pay them well.

Not every body sees it that way though. The Tulsa World recently ran a letter from a gentlemen who refers today's doctors as "capitalist businessmen who masquerade as doctors", and hopes for the day of socialized medicine. Seems he doesn't like being asked how he is going to pay for the services he receives. He draws a comparison between today's routine office visit and the procedures during a disaster. I've been in a hospital during a big disaster. The ER saw hundreds of patients, and I bet not one was asked anything about finances.

All this is interesting, because I read the letter in the OR break room. When I was done with my break, I went and gave a lunch break in the trauma ortho room. In that room, a board certified, fellowship trained, trauma orthopedist was fixing a horrible break to the proximal humerus on a young man who had wrecked his motorcycle. He was assisted by two certified scrub techs and two certified radiology techs. There was a board certified anesthesiologist given anesthesia. The surgeon was using some very sophisticated (and expensive) plates and screws to fix the multiple fractures. A representative of the company that made the plates was in the room to make sure everything went well with his products. This is a lot of talent and expensive technology being used by this young man. Now many young men who crash motorcycles don't have a lot of insurance. This young man had several tattoos, one reading "Thug Life Bitch", and another reading "Fuck All". (We were left wondering if the thought was left incomplete, Fuck all... accountants, public employees, goats?) I may be showing bias, but I think it is safe to say the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital are not going to be paid for this man's care. Some times life provides a nice ironic juxtaposition.

If you have the right to demand my services, and I have no right to demand to be compensated for my labor, then I am your slave.

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