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September 30, 2004

Letter from a doctor

Prompted by our debate on medical malpractice and the presidential race, Steven T. Farmer, D.O. of Upper Sandusky, Ohio [sfarmer (at) wyandotmemorial - dot -com] writes us as follows:

I am a rural general physician, and the county coroner. My office is in the community hospital, next to the ER. My duties range from the simple, to critical care management and stabilization of major trauma. Sometimes my duties take me beyond description or imagination. I am a leading responder in nearly every catastrophic event in the county. I am the only physician in the region taking babies as new patients. I am a salaried physician; I have not seen an increase in my salary in over eight years.

There is so much pain and suffering I am engaged in, for so many reasons. Very few are “lucky” enough to have big money associated with their pain and suffering. When I hear people say that caps on damages “trivialize” people with pain and suffering I say the opposite. These select few who feel entitled to be rewarded for pain and suffering trivialize the vast majority of those who suffer profoundly without recourse.

I am not fooled when I hear the insurers and the attorneys blame each other for the problems, I think of them as mutual beneficiaries of a single corrupt financial process. Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum insist that they’re different, but are really just one. I consider myself to be an indentured socialist, while a majority of the peripheral medical system is purely capitalistic in nature. I am a proven multi-million dollar financial value to this community, but do not have such bargaining power; to then apply purely capitalistic legal standards to what I do is unjust. If I continue to be the only one who sees young children, and continue to respond to disasters in this community, the reality of a career-ending, financially devastating judgment is inevitable. It is a statistical certainty that Heisenberg can best explain. I must begrudgingly remove myself from the practice of medicine to have a career with financial and academic liberty, free from the fear of certain legal devastation. How unfortunate. Although I doubt the Bush Cheney administration will be able to remedy the situation, John Edwards has a record of devastating valuable medical professionals for financial gain; he has also fought every alternative for patients to advance their medical grievances. It is silly for me to believe that an administration with a medical malpractice attorney as Vice President will do anything but make things worse for everyone, except his peers.
Posted by Walter Olson at 12:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

Medicine and Law



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