Doctors Gone Mild by Pat Conrad MD

I get the challenge that the creators of “South Park” face, and I admire them all the more for overcoming it.  These days incidents and outrages arise on a daily basis that are so ludicrous, so completely idiotic, that they defy attempts at parody and satire.

If the irrelevant can be converted into light and sound energy, then the AMA is as close as we’re likely to get to an inexhaustible supply.  While social media is crawling with doctors yapping like the trained seals most have become over the latest random shooting, the AMA has begun to flay itself over sexual harassment: “#MeToo Comes Home at AMA Meeting – – Emergency resolution calls for outside review of group’s harassment policies.”  I actually laughed out loud when I read this.

Resolution co-authoress and pediatrician Samantha Rosman, MD stated, “Two years ago in Orlando, I was groped by a fellow delegate.”  (There are no further details given, nor could I find any other information in a cursory Google search.  If you know something, please come forward.)  I have no idea what the circumstances were, nor does this story list the alleged perpetrator.  “After hearing similar stories from other women, Rosman felt compelled to bring her complaint to the AMA’s leadership. However, because she was not an AMA employee, she was told there wasn’t a mechanism for dealing with her concern, Rosman said.  Okay, then.  Nowhere in this piece does is note that Dr. Rosman slapped the taste out of the alleged, or gave him (or her?) a severe knee-induced pelvic hematoma, and stomped out with her honor intact, and a wiser ex-groper writhing on the ground.  I’ve worked with a lot of female colleagues and nurses over my career, and not one of them would ever suffer groping passively.  So call me naïve.

AMA Board of Trustees Chair Jack Resneck Jr., MD, recited the adoption of a comprehensive anti-harassment policy, and the typical “zero tolerance” lingo customary to all public damage control, applicable to “all delegates and other associates.”  Rosman originally took her complaint to the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), which took a pass, leading to the emergency resolution which throws the handling for any future hot potatoes right back to the CEJA.  And now the AMA has a “compliance hotline” on which the complainant may remain anonymous.  Rosman added, “We don’t need to be embarrassed that this is happening in our house, it’s happening everywhere in this country right now and women are finally speaking up. What we need to be embarrassed about is that we do not have [ways] to deal with it.  We need outside consultation on how to deal with this and we need it to happen now.”

But as Rosman herself makes clear, she is not an AMA employee, and the current policies did not apply to delegates.  So did the circumstances involve a creepy board member applying some sort of lopsided power arrangement, threatening the potential advancement of a younger member?  Was this just a drunk fellow delegate getting handsy in the elevator?  I am not, not, not defending ANY of that rotten behavior, but absent more info and evidence, I’m just one of those knuckle-draggers that doesn’t get it.

What I DO get is that the AMA has for a long time been the perfect incubator for responses to the outrage du jour, and the #metoo fashion fits the bill perfectly.  Instead of dealing with a collapsing health care system and primary care hemorrhage, the House Of Medicine passes an emergency resolution that won’t accomplish much of anything, but is easy, will garner good press, and no one will dare oppose it.  What I also get is that the AMA has been an enabler of harassment for a very long time.  Despite the occasional strongly worded letter, the AMA has lured doctors up to the suite, poured the wine, and waited in the hall while CMS has Weinstein’d U.S. physicians right out of their -modifiers and into a hot CLIA tub.  The AMA still profits mightily from the ICD industry, and tells doctors not to budge from the EHR couch.  The AMA then apologizes, moans for forgiveness, and begs doctors to come home, promising them a prime-time role in the next round of “quality” payouts, after which the poor drugged provider awakens to a round of audits, adjustments, and extrapolated fines.

So forgive me, you AMA bastards, if I don’t quite take you seriously on this, or any other issue.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  2 comments for “Doctors Gone Mild by Pat Conrad MD

  1. John A. Goldman, MD
    November 21, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    As an alternate delegate to the AMA, I was surprised that this harassment issue was not addressed by the Board of Trustees.

    The AMA has problems. Their own research indicates that the two major pressing issues addressing physicians are:
    1. Unworkable EHR – jammed down our throats with penalties galore. They are horrible!
    2. Abusive Prior approval pushed on us on a daily basis by insurance companies, PBMs, etc with penalties, abuse of patients and physicians.

    We have 10,000 physicians retiring or leaving practice annually. We only have 21 % and now I am told 25 % of physicians are members. Health care in this country is in crisis but the organization that could do something is the AMA – it isn’t. We have nonphysician pushed to the front of care rather than as part of a team actually lead by a physician

    IN 2014 we had the AMA sponsored Rand report on how to improve EHR but we were told in June 2018 in Chicago that they are studying it for 2 more years and this November 2018 meeting we are saying that the time is 2021 (3 years)! If we protest and try to get resolutions on both of the above issues we are told there is AMA policy on it. A policy does not lead to action.

    A few years ago AMA President Steve Stack MD tried to move on the EHR issues but he was not able to get any traction.

    This inaction is frustrating and the Pat Conrad article is in general on target.

  2. Elizabeth Latimer
    November 18, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    I’m proud to say that I have never been a member of the AMA. Remember in med school when they offered the student discount to join: I took the time to research them and was stunned to find that they offered no value to the MD but we’re likely bought and paid for by outside interests. It seemed like a union where everything went in and nothing came out.

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