YOUR DOCTOR’S PRIORITIES
By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2012, The Center For Development
Medical errors and mistakes of various kinds are rampant in American allopathic medical care. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine (2010) suggested that 40,000 mistakes are made every day! in American hospitals. Some are minor, like a nurse not washing her hands before touching a patient. Others are serious and life-threatening.
This article discusses just one set of reasons for these errors that everyone must be concerned with. Essentially, you are generally not your doctor’s first priority. In fact, you are not even his second or third priority. This is a major reason for medical failures, errors and ever higher costs. These facts may also hold the key to fixing our medical system.
Disclaimer: I never suggest that you stop any medication or postpone any medical diagnostic test, treatment, procedure or intervention. This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as diagnosis, prevention or treatment for any disease, mental or physical, real or imaginary.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS IMPORTANT ARTICLE
This article should help you learn about the medical system so you can make better choices about drugs, insurance, doctors and even going to the hospital, should you require a visit there.
We will discuss why doctors are not putting you first, even though they may seem like they are. The sad truth is that many, if not most of them, are not primarily working for you. Let us discuss what tend to be your doctor’s real priorities or loyalties today.
PRIORITY #1. LICENSING AUTHORITIES
Your doctor’s first loyalty is usually to his licensing board. This is the truth, whether you will admit it or not, because if your licensed doctor, naturopath, aupuncturist or other professional does not abide by the dictates of the licensing board, he or she will lose the license and be out of business.
These boards are supposed to “protect you” by dictating to your doctor, and to your laboratory and hospital, exactly what they may and may not say and do. Sadly, people vote for more licensing, thinking this protects them. However, the truth is that occupational licensing mainly protects the status quo, including the drug medical cartel that is discussed in other articles.
Licensing not only damages the doctor-patient relationship. It gives patients a phony idea about the competence of the doctor and hospital, it discriminates against those who want to innovate, it stops change and it protects outdated and often toxic or dangerous therapies and tests.
There are alternatives to licensing that would make doctors far more responsible to their patients. Lies that one often hears are that unlicensed practitioners are “unregulated”. This is not true at all. Unlicensed practitioners are subject to all the criminal laws that exist such as fraud, negligence and malpractice. They are also regulated by the laws of the marketplace. This basically means if they don’t help people, they will be out of business quickly. The same cannot be said of many licensed people who hold their position because of their license, not because of their level of competence and how well they satisfy their patients.
Another lie is that medical boards are “unbiased” and have consumer input. This is never true, in my experience. They are mainly made up of the very professionals they are supposed to regulate. They have clear conflicts of interest and the public is not the main priority.
The licensing system in medical care will not change, however, unless more people understand the problems with licensing, which I have only touched upon. For much more information about licensing, see the article entitled The Case Against Medical Licensing.
PRIORITY #2. MALPRACTICE ATTORNEYS
Your doctor’s next priority is often to satisfy his attorney, or attorneys that work for hospitals, laboratories, etc. This is also the truth, even if you don’t believe it. The fact is that thousands of greedy malpractice attorneys lie in wait for doctors to misspeak or misbehave so they can file a lawsuit.
In theory, this is helpful for “medical consumers”, as it should make doctors more careful. However, in practice it often does not work out that way. Problems caused by all the lawsuits include:
1. Defensive medicine. This is not real medical care at all. It is the running of thousands of unnecessary tests and even procedures to satisfy lawyers rather than for the patient’s good. It is dangerous, costly and often does little for the patient. Also, the doctors often lie about it, insisting they need more tests, biopsies and treatments than they really do. But their lawyers insist upon it to prevent lawsuits.
2. Lying by doctors. Doctors rarely will tell you the truth about their legal liabilities, as it would only upset you. So they just tell you whatever they must to keep going. This is very damaging for the doctor-patient relationship, impairs healing and is generally horrible.
3. Much higher costs, unnecessary surgeries, and unnecessary drugs and treatments. The result of defensive medical care is that doctors are forced to do more x-rays, more biopsies, more drug therapy than is prudent. Instead of discussing the possible outcomes and options, the lawyers tell the doctors and labs and hospitals to just do the tests and procedures and treatments to protect themselves. This, again, is very bad for the doctor-patient relationship, not to mention the extra monetary cost and suffering it causes.
This is a legal protection racket, to be blunt. It greatly increases medical costs and subjects you to tests and even operations that can be unnecessary and dangerous. You may be placed on a medication, for example, just so that no lawyer could even claim the doctor “failed to treat” a problem, even if the doctor really does not believe you need the drug.
This is so prevalent it is taken for granted in our medical system. People are often guinea pigs for tests, drugs and even operations that are hardly needed, or should be used as a last resort. Hospitals are by far the worst places where defensive medicine is used.
It is all done to protect the doctor, hospital, or even a laboratory, but not for your good. So, once again, you are not even second in line, but perhaps third in the doctor’s list of priorities.
PRIORITY #3. INSURANCE COMPANIES, BOTH PRIVATE AND GOVERNMENT
Another common priority and loyalty of your doctor, hospital or other medical facility are insurers, both government and private. There is a way around this, which is to pay cash. Most people, however, don’t know this or are stuck with some kind of insurance from work or the government.
Insurance often dictates which tests will be run, which drugs will be used, and which procedures are done. Those healing methods, remedies and procedures that are not covered by insurance are often simply ignored, I am sorry to say. The doctor would rather not face the embarrassment of telling you that there are other options, but your insurance won’t cover them.
For example, if insurance will not pay for your doctor to discuss your diet or lifestyle, this is often overlooked because there would be no reimbursement for it for the doctor or hospital. If, by chance, your doctor recommends a method or even a drug that is not covered, he is afraid you will be angry with him and go elsewhere. After all, who wants to pay out of pocket if one has already paid for insurance or is on the dole, as they say in Great Britain?
A fine doctor will bring it up anyway, but may be censured for doing so, or could lose his job at his HMO or PPO for going against the accepted practice methods of the company. Once again, you are not the main focus. Instead, your friendly doctor follows a set of guidelines set up far away by people who know you only as a numbered statistic in their insurance calculations.
PRIORITY #4. COMPLYING WITH HUNDREDS OF GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS
Hospitals, doctors and even labs have high overhead costs, many of which are related to complying with hundreds of government regulations, environmental controls, reporting requirements for the government, HIPPA rules and much more that has little or nothing at all to do with your health and healing. This is true, even if you don’t believe it or agree with it.
PRIORITY #5. BRIBES, ALSO CALLED “INCENTIVES”
Doctors, hospitals, and even laboratories are often given incentives, which are really bribes, to use particular drugs, particular procedures, and particular medical devices. The manufacturers or even the government offers these bribes for various reasons, but mainly to promote new products, operations and devices, and to get doctors used to “the system”, as they call it, whereby doctors are the tools of the drug makers and device makers. This is a sad fact about modern conventional medical care, even if you choose not to believe it.
I have read account after account of doctors being paid hundreds of dollars to prescribe one brand or one particular type of drug. They will never tell you this, but it is true. Once again, it is bad medicine, it damages the doctor-patient relationship, and almost always adds more cost to disease care. It happens with both private and government-run health care systems around the world.
Drug makers are required to report how much they spend on “advertising” or “promotion”. Yes, they give out free samples, but they also bribe doctors and hospitals to use various products and devices as part of their advertising budget.
PRIORITY #6. DOCTORS ARE VICTIMS OF PHONY STUDIES
This problem is particularly sad. It is well known. and has been written about, that some drug makers, and possibly other groups hire doctors to run false and phony “medical studies” to prove falsely that a product, drug or device or procedure is worthwhile, when it is not.
Your doctor reads these “studies” in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA and other so-called first rate medical journals and you end up receiving the drug or procedure. Sadly, most doctors do not research enough to really check this research, and many are not aware of the amount of fraud and phoniness that goes on in this area.
There are many valid nutritional journals, for example, but most doctors are told not to bother with them. So while there are valid studies, your doctor often reads and responds to the wrong ones that are targeted to him by unscrupulous drug companies, mainly. Once again, you are the loser.
PRIORITY #7. ARROGANCE
Sadly, licensing, a made-up phony doctor shortage, and a lot of media hype about how wonderful the medical profession is, has given rise to a lot of arrogance among healers of all stripes, I have observed.
The doctor’s priority becomes maintaining his mystical knowledge instead of sharing it, using Latin disease and procedure names that are very difficult for the average person to understand, and treating you rather poorly in some cases. Some of this is due to earning too much money, but it happens even with those who do not earn a lot, such as naturopaths and others.
PRIORITY #8. GREED
Sadly, many doctors are greedy. I hear about this from patients and doctors in all nations, including those with a government-run health care system. It makes no difference. In the “private” health care systems, which really do not exist today, the fees may just be too high, and licensing creates artificial doctor shortages so people are forced to pay the high prices. In reality, America, for example, has a cartel system, not a private, free-market health care system, which was destroyed by the AMA about 100 years ago.
In government-run health care systems, the doctor wants to see as many patients as possible so he can “meet his quota” and be paid more. In fact, there is often more corruption in government-run health care systems around the world than in privately-run systems where at least there is more competition.
The problem or greed and ethical laxity occurs in all fields of human endeavor, by the way, from car repair to contracting and everything in between. However, many people do not realize it is going on with doctors. Also, in fields like car repair, contracting, and many others, free competition is more allowed, at least in America, and this controls the greed and excessive pricing. However, in medical care, the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and other groups strictly control the number of medical graduates and hospitals so that people are forced to pay the higher prices. Lack of true competition due to licensing laws and other barriers to entry into the healing arts is the main reason health care is so costly around the world.
Examples of less than ethical behavior among doctors includes, but is not limited to:
1. Using medical equipment such as x-ray machines and scanners because they are costly and must be paid for. You must always remember this or you may not understand as well why your doctor recommends what he does. I say this hopefully not with malice, but simply because there is truth in it. Always question doctors as to whether a test, procedure, operation or medication or even a vitamin product is definitely needed or just recommended.
Sadly, I hear from many nutritionists and doctors alike that they “must” recommend such and such a product or test because it is lucrative. This is awful, but true.
2. Some doctors recommend what they think you will like, rather than what is really best for you. They do this so you will come back and they will have your business.
3. As mentioned above, accepting “incentives”, which are bribes, to use particular products or procedures.
You must be forever watchful that drugs, tests and procedures are not recommended just to satisfy a quota or to pad the bill, or some other financial reason.
I am truly shocked when I describe my nutritional approach to health care to some medical colleagues. They listen thoughtfully and some even get excited, but those willing to confide usually say privately that it would be bad for business because we actually heal the people at deep levels and after a time they need not return for more treatment. Very few ever follow up to learn with me. This is the reality of modern drug medicine.
A hundred years ago medical care was given for very little money and doctors were among the poor in society. Medicine was considered among the most honored professions and a high income was not the doctor’s priority. This has changed, unfortunately, in too many cases.
Doctors that charge too much should be avoided as they are less trustworthy in my mind. There is no reason a doctor should charge a fortune and you don’t need to be paying for his Porsche or his mansion.
PRIORITY # 9. IN SOME CASES. RESPONDING TO ADS AND NEWS FLASHES
Shameless advertising by drug companies and medical device makers is everywhere. Also, the medical cartel issues exciting “press releases” at least monthly about the latest new drug or operation. Many of these announcements amount to little more than advertising. The truth is that most new drugs that are announced are later found to have serious side effects. Many never make it to the marketplace, and of those that do make it, many are withdrawn from the market within a few years after killing thousands of people. This is the truth about drug medicine, even if you don’t believe it.
The goal of all this is to cause patients to call on doctors and demand the latest drug, operation or other item shown on television. Sadly, most doctors go along and try the drug on the patient. This is because they know that if they say it is a waste of money, or it is toxic, or it is new and untried, or they haven’t studied it enough, the patient may just find a new doctor who will give him the advertised drug.
The doctor excuses his lax attitude by figuring that it is probably safe, so why not give it a try. If it were unsafe, the FDA would not have approved it, right? WRONG! This is another integrity issue with doctors and the FDA that, once again, can severely impact your health.
Most new drugs are to be avoided until proven safe for at least 10 years, I would say. Even that is not long enough for some of them, as the problems take time to identify clearly in many instances. Later, we learn that often the drug company knew about the problem from their early rat studies, but that is another story about the lack of integrity of most pharmaceutical companies today. I suggest avoiding most drugs, anyway, as they are not needed if one knows how to handle most health problems.
For example, a recent news headline was that Paxil, a commonly used anti-depressant, causes an eight-fold increase in suicide among teenagers and increased violence. The manufacturer knew about this problem for 15 years and didn’t tell anyone. They are now under investigation and it will take another few years to get the drug off the market. It will, however, be just in time for the drug patent to expire, and then the drug company is much less interested in Paxil anyway because the price will come down as generic drug makers are able to copy drugs that are off patent.
Sadly, this is how some large drug companies routinely operate. One must understand this. It is not intended to be a blanket attack on all drugs and all drug companies. However, too often profits and patents drive the industry and the doctors are in the dark and act simply as the “pushers” who do the bidding of the large drug companies and their friends who work for the FDA.
Once again, your interests are too often shoved aside in place of financial and other motives of advertisers and other “third parties”.
Many doctors, in interviews, have told reporters and others that they would never undergo the drug or other therapy they prescribe for their patients. Why do they keep recommending them for others?
Because they are essentially forced to do so by licensing boards, insurers, legal authorities, government regulations, the demands of “business as usual”, and perhaps the censure of their colleagues. All of these priorities of doctors are unrelated your patient care.
Let the consumer beware applies to medical care more than ever for this reason. Once you thoroughly understand this, you will become a far better medical consumer. To check the safety of your hospital, go to HealthGrades Web site.
My advice to people who complain about doctors and hospitals is to follow a nutritional balancing program and you will not need them very much. Live wisely and safely, and you will need them even less.