Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More and more physicians work for corporations-what could possibly go wrong?

Dr Roy Poses tells us that plenty can go wrong and has already and will only get worse. See here for his latest commentary  of things going wrong when physicians' salaries are dependent on hospitals and other corporations for their livelihood who in turn exists to maximize profits and "quality care" is just a marketing phrase.


This detailed article from the NYT provides more chilling documentation of what can happen and,is happening, as corporate entities practice medicine and physicians become more and more under the control of the corporations' suits.


When there is a conflict between the corporation's bottom line and the individual patient's well being one could only hope that the physician's ethical compass would point in the direction of the patient benefit.However, with the new medical ethics , one could argue that the good of the collective ( the HMO or ACO or hospital  or whatever) may well trump the welfare of the individual .

 That was not the case with the "old ethic" in which the good of the collective was not mentioned and the physician was considered the fiduciary of the patient.Try and find the word fiduciary in the New Professionalism or in the latest edition of the ethics manual of the American College of Physicians.

When the physician and the corporation have the same interest  (corporate bottom line) and the former act in the interests of the latter the published desire of Berwick and Brennan to do away with the [physician - patient ] dyad as a decision making unit will be fulfilled. See here for my earlier comments on the following quote from Berwick's Book entitled New Rules.

 
"Today, this isolated relationship[ he is speaking of the physician patient relationship] is no longer tenable or possible… Traditional medical ethics, based on the doctor-patient dyad must be reformulated to fit the new mold of the delivery of health care...Regulation must evolve. Regulating for improved medical care involves designing appropriate rules with authority...Health care is being rationalized through critical pathways and guidelines. The
primary function of regulation in health care, especially as it affects the quality of medical care, is to constrain decentralized individualized decision making.


In the 17 years since the publication of New Rules,considerable progress has been made in their desired reformulation of ethics and how medicine is practiced and one can surmise that the authors are appropriately gratified. Those of us who hoped that in our hour of medical need we would be attended by physicians who acted in their fiduciary duty to us and not in accordance with a reformulated ethical framework are a bit less sanguine.

1 comment:

Hal Dall, MD said...

I'm considered corrupt if I take a pen from a drug rep, corrupt if I provide someone needed care outside of competing guidelines, worse than corrupt if I have a direct care practice (I wish).

Yet if I crimp care to meet the corp bottom line, no problem!

As I tell my patients, this collectivization of doctors into collective medical farms is a feature, not a bug of Obamacare.