Tuesday, January 03, 2017

If You See Something, Say (and Do) Something - Don't Just Grumble to Your Friends About Health Care Dysfunction

During the US presidential campaign, and after its results, I have heard from a lot of people who were unhappy. They were unhappy with the choice of candidates, their policies, or or their qualifications or character.  They were unhappy about media coverage, about the political parties' leadership, etc, etc. But most of them only expressed their unhappiness to a small group of friends.

Similarly, while blogging for Health Care Renewal over the years, I have heard lots of people who are unhappy about the issues we cover, mainly as they affect health care, but also as they affect the larger political economy, for example:
- concentration and abuse of power
- conflicts of interest, and health care corruption
- health care leadership that is ill-informed, fails to uphold health care professionals' values, mission hostile, self-interested, conflicted or corrupt
- health care governance that is opaque, unaccountable, or dishonest
- deceptive marketing and public relations, propaganda and disinformation
- threats to the integrity of science, including manipulation and suppression of research
-threats to dissenters and whistle-blowers, and generally to free speech and expression, to free association

Yet again, most of their unhappiness was expressed to a small group of friends or colleagues.

I know that it can be scary to express such concerns openly. There is risk of offending friends, family, colleagues, and particularly bosses. Whistle-blowers in health care are treated badly, and may end up losing their jobs, fighting lawsuits, etc. So many cases providing evidence for the severity of the above problems, and the problems themselves remain anechoic. It is particularly taboo to discuss health care corruption.

But if most individuals who care about these issues remain silent, why expect any improvement?

After blogging for Health Care Renewal for more than 11 years, I have seen our issues get more recognition, but there have been only a few changes that might mitigate them. Now in the US we are looking at unprecedented threats of worsening times.

Bad or lacking health care and neglect of public health problems may kill many Americans, and injure many more.  These numbers likely dwarf those who are injured or killed by terrorism.  Yet to combat terrorism, the slogan "if you see something, say something" seems to have goaded people to action.

So, if you "see something" that causes health care dysfunction, particularly something outrageous, "say something," do something.

Don't just grumble to your friends. Don't just grumble when you read Health Care Renewal. Take up a public role. Write letters to the editor, call or write your local or national legislators, use social media (but so it has a public impact), blog for us or start your own blog, organize with other like-minded people, demonstrate, boycott, strike, etc, etc, etc.

Make some noise people, or don't expect any change. As individuals, we each can accomplish a little, but together, we can accomplish a lot.


Afraid said...

Physicians, heal thy industry.

Judy B said...

Excellent post! You are correct that more of us need to stand together in order to effect any change. I have found in my "lone wolf" status as a commenter (not sure if that is a word) on "KevinMD" or "db's medical rants" that I get a lot of push back from doctors when I make even, somewhat innocuous comments about the rampant problems in the medical industry. Stronger comments generate outright hostility.
Unfortunately, there seem to be many in the industry who do not want any changes. (You have said this many times.) I guess they don't care if the bubble bursts as long as they have gotten "theirs."
I would love to see physicians make this corrupt industry, a profession once again!

Afraid said...

Good point Judy, without the doctors, any attempt to fix this from the outside is doomed. I hope enough MDs are still ethical.

james gaulte said...

Amen and again thanks for all the seemingly tireless efforts you and you colleagues have done over the years.I think there are many ethical docs left but it is getting harder and harder to go against the grain and it is easy to get discouraged.I have blogged for over ten years, hitting on some the themes you emphasize and evidence of any effect is absent.

Maggie Mahar said...

In the past 3 months I have run into two doctors who were committing what appears to be insurance fraud.

In one case the doctor charged for a procedure that was never done (and that I never requested).

When this happens, don't just refuse to pay the bill.

Let the doctor know that his/her office is over-billing
(He or she might now know--but you should make sure he/she is aware of the problem.

Also, let your insurance company know about what happened, so that it can check other bills from this office.
And tell your doctor that you are contacting the insurer.

If everyone did this, we could stop a fair amount of