Medical Self-Diagnosis; Fool for a Patient and a Dangerous Amount of Knowledge

There’s an old adage: The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient. That’s doubly true of the patient who treats himself. There’s nothing at all wrong with everyone being well-versed in a variety of subjects, including health care. So what’s the issue? At the bottom line, it’s a matter of objectivity.

A physician considers the patient’s input invaluable to diagnosis and treatment. The patient knows what feels how, where and when, knows when his or her body is “off,” and that helps doctors form a diagnosis. It’s also regularly true that the symptom can be caused by something seemingly removed and unrelated. The correct diagnosis is possible because of the doctor’s training, intuition, and ability to remain objective. If a physician were to only look in the direction the patient suggests, accurate diagnosis would be very difficult indeed.
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Tort Reform Snowball Getting Bigger

As the healthcare debate continues, more pundits, experts and legislatures are coming to the conclusion that real, substantial tort reform must be included in any final reform package. Here are just a few of the comments from around the US just yesterday;

Arizona Sentator John Kyl on FOX News

“And one of the biggest contributors to that is our medical malpractice system, or the lawsuit abuse problem that results in the “jackpot justice” that I wrote about. That is something that the Democratic leadership and the president have been unwilling to address, and the reason is very simple. Howard Dean, former national Democrat chairman, said in a town hall meeting in northern Virginia on August 17th that the reason that tort reform is not in the legislation is very simple. And that is, the authors of the bill did not want to take on the trial lawyers.”

June Bower in the Creston News Advisor

“What is not debatable, however, is that doctors are paying an exorbitant amount of money for malpractice insurance, and they are opting out of performing many medical procedures for fear of being sued. We need their medical services, especially in rural Iowa, and to lose this care hurts us all.

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s shortsighted not to include tort reform in a health care reform bill. What can it hurt? If it makes Republicans happy, why fight it? If that’s what it takes to get a bipartisan bill passed, I say go for it.”

Justin Engle on Mlive.com

“Physicians practice medicine with the burden of excessive medical malpractice insurance and the constant fear of trial lawyers seeking unbelievable and unwarranted cash awards, of which a large percentage goes to the attorney that sued… Physicians often feel pressure to order excessive testing merely to cover their bases and help guard against malpractice claims. This leads to reductions in quality, a less efficient system, and unnecessary and unsustainable financial burdens to society.”

Brett Chase on Portfolio.com

“Historically, tort reform has been a nonstarter with Democrats, who get a lot of campaign money and political backing from the nation’s trial lawyers. But at least one Democrat, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, is suggesting that they let down their guard on this issue to get health reform passed.

“The bipartisan trade-off in a viable health care bill is obvious: Combine universal coverage with malpractice tort reform in health care,” Bradley wrote in a New York Times op-ed.”

Medical Justice has said for years that tort reform makes sense. More and more people are coming to this same conclusion.

Here’s Some Money. Use This EMR. Have a Nice day

Some professional liability carriers are offering discounts to physicians who have implemented electronic medical records (“EMR”). Further, under the stimulus package which was signed into law, doctors who meaningfully use EMR by 2011 will be eligible for federal subsidies up to $44,000 per practitioner. That is a chunk of change.

A number of EMR strategies are competing for acceptance. (more…)

A Message to Colleagues: What I’ve Learned

Esquire Magazine features a regular column called “What I’ve Learned.” There, a celebrity or a leader in his field, and often in the twilight of his life, reels off a collection of pearls, some well polished, some of little value. I am not famous and my doctor assures me actuarially I am not in the twilight in my life. But, this is what I’ve learned, so far. (more…)

Great Advice from Patient Advocate

Patient advocate Trisha Torrey has some great advice about doctor rating sites. In a recent post she writes,

“take other patients’ reviews with a grain of salt. We patients may be great at determining how nice a doctor is, but do you want your choice of doctor being influenced by someone who was just ticked off that she waited in the waiting room for too long? Don’t forget, too — there is nothing to stop the doctor herself, or her spouse or nurses to fill out those ratings questionnaires.

Someday, when there a dozen or more reviews for every physician, and someone figures out a way to make real assessments from them, I’ll revisit my opinion.”

“Most of these sites exist for only one reason – to make money. Knowing they are intended to generate income for their owners, we patients must make sure they contain useful information without a “cost” we shouldn’t be expected to pay in money, time or privacy of our information.”

Our points EXACTLY!!! That is why Medical Justice is working on a system that is verifiable, with statisicaly significant sample size and gives physicians a voice in the process.

You can read her full posts here;

Yelp and Zagat – More Cautionary Doctor Review Tales

Reviews of Physician Directories and Ratings Websites