Ben Stein posted a story at the American Spectator about a recent visit to a dermatologist. The story reminds us of how much our society and the practice of medicine has changed over the past ten years.
While the doctor was out of the room, Mr. Stein checked the electronic tablet containing his medical records.
The story continues:
I’m a snoop, so while he was gone, I looked at his iPad-like device which he had left behind. It was a medical record keeping machine. It said my name (as “Benjamin,” not as “Ben” ) and then said that I had come in complaining of a rash and itching. It further said Dr. Wang has done a thorough full-scale examination of “all dermatological systems” or similar, had examined my whole body from ankles to scalp, especially my scalp. It also said I was to be charged as full exam, first time patient.
When, a minute later, Dr. Wang re-entered the room, I asked him, “I beg your pardon for snooping, but, sir, I would like to know why you said I had complained of an itchy rash. I don’t have an itchy rash and never did. I never complained about it. Why did you say you did a series of exams on me, not one of which you did? This is a medical record of things that did not happen. It is obviously a billing document.”
To his credit, Dr. Wang looked suitably embarrassed. “Oh, this is just boilerplate,” he said (or something similar). “At the end of the day I would have edited it to show I didn’t do anything much.”
“A full exam, first time patient billing under Medicare?”
“Oh, don’t mind that.” he said.
The doctor said that he would edit the report and it is assumed that he will not be billing Medicare for a full exam that he did not perform. Please follow the link above to read the entire story–it got very interesting when Ben Stein explained to the doctor who he was.
The article concludes:
I went away angry. I am sure Dr. Wang is a fine fellow. Yes, very sure. But… There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in this country and millions of appointments with patients every day. How many of them involve billing for exams that never happened? How many of them serve only the purpose of ginning up revenue for the doctors? Mr. Obama wants to consider how to lower health care costs and he’s right. But what a staggering moral-ethical-criminal problem there is in medical care today. And with what sickening contempt these medical office personnel treat us patients. It was a maddening day.
I would add that most of the doctors I see treat me extremely well. Better than I deserve. But what about the doctors who see their license to heal as a license to steal? Who watches them?