Supply of Medical Services

Wisconsin Protests and Physician Integrity

Doctors have been giving out sick notes for teachers protesting Wisconsin’s threat to disband their union.  Not only is this wrong, but Dr. Rich of Covert Rationing argues that it isn’t even a form of civil disobedience.  Physicians are often put on a pedestal as the models of professional integrity.  Previous studies, however, have found that doctors are not always so honest.  More from Dr. Rich:

In a survey…published in the April 12, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 39% of American doctors admitted that they sometimes or very often manipulated reports to their patients’ health plans so their patients might gain coverage for needed medical care. These manipulations included exaggerating the severity of the patients’ condition, changing the billing diagnosis, or reporting symptoms the patient did not have. And 72% admitted using one of these tactics at least once in the past year. More than a quarter said that gaming the system was necessary in order to provide high quality care to their patients, and 15% asserted that it was ethical.

“Another survey, published in the July/August, 2003, issue of Health Affairs, reported that nearly 33% of American doctors admit that they routinely withhold from their patients pertinent information about optimal medical treatments, because they suspect the patients’ health plans won’t cover those treatments.


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