Health Care News & Discussion
Doctors in Hot Water
01/04/2001 2:23 PM
Doctors are increasingly in “Hot Water.” But this may not be their fault. Let me tell you about an actual case that recently happened in a hospital.
Dr Canfield, a surgeon, had an unexpected finding during an operation. It was a challenge in which he had not had a great deal of experience. He wasn’t quite sure if an alternative approach to the intended operation might be better. So he did the unusual and obtained in intra-operative surgical consultation from a colleague. It took a great degree of courage for a surgeon to do this during an operation. Maybe he should have expected the unexpected, but such is the nature of medicine and surgery. Many surgeons would just have proceeded and no one would have known the difference. Thus the patient received the benefit of the consultative opinion, did well postoperatively and was discharged.
Several days later, two of Dr Canfield’s colleagues in the same specialty took him aside and told him that he should resign his surgical privileges within 24 hours, or they would “drag him through the mud.” He was directed to meet with the physician health committee in the medical staff lounge immediately after office hours at 6 p.m., or they would report him to the Medical Board.
When he arrived in the staff lounge, he met one of his colleagues who pledged to be his friend and see him through the confrontation. On entering the medical staff lounge, he found himself surrounded by four other colleagues in his specialty, as well as a psychiatrist who was present in order to make it look like they were interested in his emotional health. He was given the same ultimatum to resign within 24 hours or they would use his medical records against him and he would lose hospital practice privileges, an action that would then be reviewed by the state medical board. Ultimately, the result could be loss of his medical license. He would then be reported to the National Data Bank, that attorney David Gallie has called a permanent tomb for physicians, not necessarily just bad doctors.
Professor John H Fielder, PhD, writes about a disturbing trend in medicine today which he calls “Abusive Peer Review.” He cites examples in Astoria, Oregon, Oakridge, Tennessee, and Sacramento where Peer Review, which is supposed to monitor quality of care, is being used to eliminate doctors in competition. He cites reports that estimate that up to 70% of Peer Review may have nothing to do with quality of care, the very thing it was designed to do, and instead is used for economic reasons.
So if your doctor disappears from his or her practice, there is a chance that, even though he was a good doctor, he didn’t have the political savvy to survive the political onslaught of unscrupulous doctors and hospitals.