And You Trust These People With Your Life?

By Michael Applebaum, MD, JD, FCLM


Call me crazy, but some disturbing happenings seem to be going on.  I’ll just mention a few.  There are more.  Many more.

One, is this whole drug thing.  Just to pick a starting point, a short while ago it was shown that the hormone replacement therapy prescribed to women for many years, kills ‘em.  Now there are these other probable medicine problems:

Vioxx, a medication prescribed to patients for joint pains, kills ‘em,

Meridia, a medication prescribed to treat patients for gluttony, kills’ em,

Crestor, a drug prescribed to patients for bad eating and physical fitness habits (among other things), kills ‘em

Bextra, a medication prescribed to patients for joint pains, kills ‘em and

there are others that apparently kill ‘em.

Well, ‘tis the season for the ghost of Fhen-Phen past.

Next, there is this whole lose weight buddy system that couples a human with another species.  With two-thirds of Americans and one-fourth of pets overweight or obese, what, according to some medical doctors, could be more natural?  I wonder what their position would be if two-thirds of Americans and one-fourth of pets were horny?  Whatever.  The research was done with the financial support of Hill's Pet Nutrition, which makes Science Diet and a prescription diet dog food.  The real embarrassment was that the weight-loss for the dogs was even more effective than for the people. 

And there is this AP article about medical practice entitled “Insurer Launches Anti-Lawsuit Contest”  It begins:

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's largest malpractice insurer has launched a contest offering rewards to doctors who head off lawsuits by adopting office practices that deliver quality care.

Shouldn’t any physician already seeing patients have adopted office practices that deliver (high?) quality care?  Do we really need this event?  And why are there only a “dozen physicians who have entered the contest so far”? 

You gotta wonder “Why?”  And if you don’t, I’ll wonder for you.

A good place to start is the role of the physician in the drug catena.  Besides serving as the willing recipient of pens, perks and product samples, docs basically do what they are told.  They do not do what they know.  Here’s what I mean.

If you read a movie review, you might talk about it and parrot the review in expressing your opinion.  You haven’t seen the film, yet you add your voice to the conversation.  This is common.  In doctoring, virtually no physician knows first-hand the truth about the stuff they tell you to put into your body.  Physicians know what they read and they know what they hear.  They do not know personally about the drug.  It would not be far afield to consider your friendly neighborhood doc similar to your friendly neighborhood drug pusher.  One difference might be that the drug pusher has actually tried the merchandise first.  Another is that the drug pusher may canvass his clients for feedback since selling the product may be a major source of income so he/she cares about how it affects/satisfies the customer.  Both the physician and the drug pusher are links in the chain of distribution from the producer to the end user.  Virtually any prescribing physician is merely a set of hands in the pharmaceutical bucket brigade.  So is the pharmacist, by the way.

Yet why should they know about the bad stuff?  They don’t produce, test or package the product.  They just suggest that you use it.

Whether you want to be convinced is your business.

Because physicians have so spectacularly failed as guardians of the national health (not their fault completely), gimmicks are in order.  These are, I assume, employed either to inveigle you do the healthy thing or cause you so much fun that you forget the crappy job the docs are doing.  Gimmicks like exercising with your dog.  Or more accurately taking the dog for a forced march together with you since you are too fat and without self-actuation.  As it turns out, in the study mentioned above the difference between dog walkers and non-dog walkers was slight.  Still, it was news since it is so darned cute.  The lead researcher was quoted as saying, “If you're looking for motivation and social support to lose weight, you probably don't have to look any further than the pet in your own home.”  He suggests that we turn to dogs for support and motivation based on his “20 years” of experience doing “obesity studies.”  Really, do you want your physician with 20 years of experience in the field telling you to find motivation and support for your personal health in a dog?  Wouldn’t you prefer a physician who will help you find motivation and support for your personal health whether you own a pet or not or whether your pet is alive or dead?  What are these people going to do when the pet dies?  Or if they own a fish?  Or a turtle?

Here’s another gimmick.  There is an in fertility group near Chicago that will give you a free pizza just for checking them out.  That’s amore.

Malpractice is bad.  It’s costly, someone is hurt, lives are ruined.  It’s a mess.  Thank God something is being done about it.  This new idea of quality care just may take hold.  (High quality I hope.)  If it weren’t for radical, aggressive, crusading, do-good insurance companies like the one in Michigan, who knows where quality of care would finally settle?  Doesn’t it speak volumes to you that the insurer of your doctor has to hold a a contest to improve the quality of your care?  How should you feel if your doc entered and didn’t win?

Let’s recap.

The drugs we are prescribed kill us.  Physicians choose to treat us as dogs.  An insurer assesses the quality of medical care to be so low, that it pits docs against each other hoping for improvement. 

And you trust these people with your life?

For the vast majority of us there is one way to avoid encountering poison pills, doggie-docs, pizza-pushing providers and competitive health care givers—don’t enter the health care system unless it is absolutely necessary.

The best way to delay dealing with health care is to become fit.  Fitness really is the only preventive medicine.  Trust your life to yourself.  Develop some fitness skills.  The time and effort you spend achieving fitness will repay you many times over and keep you living better and longer.