If you’re off to broil on the beach and looking for a good book, I can recommend Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, a real page-turner and thought provoker. Hardly an establishment right-winger, Crichton’s 2004 techno-thriller about eco-terrorists challenges sincere minds with interesting questions, all based on a pop science establishment with a self-aggrandizing agenda, and its influence on the the average citizen. Here’s a quote from his author’s note at the end:
“But as Alston Chase put it, “when the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.”
That is the danger we now face. And this is why the intermixing of science and politics is a bad combination, with a bad history. We must remember the history, and be certain that what we present to the world as knowledge is disinterested and honest.”
Back in ’99 the Institute of Medicine assaulted us with their “To Err is Human” report, and voila!, we’re all out time and money for maintenance of certifications that will not add anything to our skills or professional enjoyment, to say nothing of “patient safety”, commensurate with the effort and cash expanded. The AMA lives in perpetual fear that they will not be in the daily intricacies of every doctor, and to that end support government coercion in jamming expensive EHR’s into every clinic and ER to keep physicians fearful that they may not get the latest bonus / suffer the latest penalty. Will any of this improve the care delivered? We don’t know.
Fearful patients enjoy pharmaceutical ads cajoling them towards the latest round of lipid and fibromyalgia-fighting agents, rushing to get scripts from doctors fearful of legal action for poor or poorly-perceived outcomes.
Fearful of losing reelection, the White House has encouraged the latest HHS taxpayer-sponsored advertising which extols the goodness of ObamaCare to the tune of $20 million, according to Rep. Steve Boustany (R-La). This will stoke both the fears of those who demand coverage whatever the cost, and those employers who will be called on to pay for it. But will this improved coverage result in improved access?
And of course NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to play to the sugar-fear of his cowed citizenry, recently announcing an attempt to ban large sodas, himself flanked by obsequious too-gooder doctors at the Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center. But is there any evidence that this compassionate intrusiveness will have any good effect on patients?
Ours has become a fear-based profession, where we physicians variously serve as the causes, enablers, instruments, and victims of the accelerating wave of fear from our nervous, mousy society. Hardly a legacy of which to be proud.