- Del Meyer, MD - http://delmeyer.net -

Politics & Health

Doctor Paul Striker, a New York plastic surgeon, estimates that one in five members of Congress has undergone some form of plastic surgery. We always knew that politicians try to make themselves look better than they really are, but did we ever suspect that they would go to this extent?

Herb Caen recently reported that the homeless are upwardly mobile. A local transient was assaulted in the K-Mart parking lot, pulled out his cellular phone and called the police… In a related story, a Sacramento insurance agent reported that he traveled to San Francisco to pay $300,000 to the family of a recently deceased “homeless” victim. He had been sleeping under a car when the driver got in and pulled away from the curb, fatally wounding him. Following his demise, it was ascertained that he did have a home. The agent stated it was cheaper to pay the maximum on the policy than to fight the case in court. Evidently there is more risk in exceeding 1,000 hours of attorneys’ services at $300 per hour than in just paying $300,000. It seems that legal remedies are now affordable only for the very wealthy and the very poor if the defendant is wealthy… Caen also reports that across the Bay the wedding guests were informed to keep the gates locked or the “outdoorsmen” would attend the wedding. He then determined that was Berserkleyese for their “homeless.”

Many of America’s richest law firms got richer last year. Profits per partner–the key measure of law-firm wealth–averaged a record $446,000 in 1995 according to American Lawyer’s annual ranking of the nation’s 100 top grossing firms. The top five firms on this list racked up over a million dollars profit per partner. Lynn Mestel, a law-firm headhunter in New York, states that non-productive partners, bloated administrative staffs, and high overhead, continue to hurt the bottom line…

Although drivers side steering wheel airbags save lives, the government’s requirement of extending airbags to the passenger side by 1999 in the cause of safety, has proven quite hazardous to children. Of the 23 people killed by passenger side airbags, 22 were children. The lone adult was a frail woman. For years federal regulators and safety advocates ignored industry warnings, first predicted by General Motors in 1969, that passenger air bags could kill kids. Now the government is in the awkward position of fumbling for ways to minimize the danger of a government required safety device which has been called a “lethal dashboard bomb.”

Felons in Congress (convicted of mail fraud, bribery, false financial statements, tax evasion, etc) continue to receive their pensions of nearly one million to $2.4 million at taxpayers’ expense, even while in jail. We should trust this “House of Thieves” to rewrite Medicare, Medicaid, and be serious about the betterment of humankind?

Overheard in the patient lounge: “Why don’t doctors send a sympathy card to the family when one of their patients dies?” Now that would indeed show a genuine interest in the patient as a person rather than a case. Better get a box of cards ready at the office.

Joel D Wallach, DVM, MD, nominee for the Nobel prize in Medicine in 1991, mentioned in an address that hundreds of thousands of patients lose their lives unnecessarily in hospitals. He then stated that we have two “opportunities” to give our lives for our country–once on the battlefield and once in a [government] VA hospital.

Consumers Reports gave an HMO a 61% satisfaction index. The HMOs, according to George Anders in the Wall Street Journal, have become very sophisticated in their own polls. They found that telephone polls give higher satisfaction indices than written polls. Also the season is important. It has been shown that ratings are higher during the sign up quarter than the last quarter. Thus their privately financed pseudoscientific polls will give satisfaction indices up to 50% higher.

Deja Vu: Phil Alper, MD, reports that in France, the “Order of Physicians” (initially created by the Vichy Government during the Nazi occupation) was instructed to create a cookbook listing “appropriate” guidelines for ordering…tests and medication. It leans heavily on office-based physicians and spares the more politically powerful hospital sector, even though the latter consumes 60% of the health francs. The French doctors are terrified. Computers have made mathematical criminals of doctors without any awareness of wrongdoing. In the first two months of the program, dozens of doctors have been fined thousands of dollars.

Well, how can you tell if a politician is lying? Just by observing if the lips are moving.