The Disappearing Doctor

A doctor joins a group.  Things seem to go well.  The doctor becomes popular in the community.  After a few years, things are not so well.  Maybe it’s the doctor’s fault.  Maybe the group is in turmoil.  Maybe it is just a bad fit.

The doctor leaves.  Now there are issues:  Restrictive covenants;  Practice financial deficits;  New competition;  Unresolved anger issues on both sides.

Patients call.  They have grown to trust this doctor.

Staff: “The doctor you want is not available.”
Patient: “Did he leave the practice?”
Staff: “The doctor is not here.”
Patient: “Is the doctor coming back?  Is the doctor moving to another practice?  Is the doctor dead?”
Staff: “We can’t say.”

As doctors, we do this to ourselves.   No wonder we can’t work together to make important changes!

(Editor’s Note: Actually, I see this by hospital employers more than anything else but that picture above is perfect!! DF)

Steven Mussey MD

Steven Mussey, M.D. is a physician in Internal Medicine, practicing in the Fredericksburg area for more than twenty years. He grew up in Springfield, Virginia and earned a degree in Physics from The University of Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his medical degree at The George Washington University and was inducted into the medical honor society AOA. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. He served in the Air Force for four years before entering into private practice. He particularly enjoys geriatric medical care and working with complex patients. For almost a quarter century, he has been practicing with one other Internist. Both doctors enjoy practice in a small, but busy office, and plan on working into their 70s, as long as they can still find their way to the office. Dr. Mussey is also an avid cartoonist and has a weekly cartoon in the local newspaper. He also enjoys cartoon animation and has had several public service cartoons playing regularly on the television cable systems. 

  6 comments for “The Disappearing Doctor

  1. Aaron M. Levine
    August 28, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Years ago I was hired to be a medical director in the hospital with a contract that was to be renewed at one year. It was not. I learned they actually hired my replacement before hiring me. However he had a contract that he could not get out of. So I was hired with this hidden information.

    I tried to make a go of a private practice. It failed. There were friendly doctors who said they were told not to refer to me. The department secretary was telling my patients how to get a follow up appointment with me. She worked for the hospital for more than 20 years. She was then replaced. My wife called the office and played the role of the daughter of a patient. She was told I literally left one day without warning and no one knew where I was. My attorney said that I should not sue as they would ruin me. They had contracts with nearly all local attorneys. I had to locate one in a nearby city.

    • Bob Riley
      August 28, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I left a practice many years ago, and although I saw no reason for the circumstances not to be amicable, I came into an exam room in my new practice to find an elderly lady softly crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “they told me you was dead.”

  2. PW
    August 27, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Looks like Comrade Stalin nudged that guy overboard.

  3. Kim
    August 27, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    They are about to lose 2000-3000 patients if the doc is well-liked. They aren’t going to tell anyone where you went, especially if you’re in the same vicinity. Either greed, vindictiveness or both are going to motivate your former colleagues.

  4. Rick
    August 27, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Oh, been there done that. Back in the day, trolls in the office I left told my loyal patients that I was no longer in practice. Lovely.
    The anger took years to subside.
    I had always planned a revenge served cold. But then life just got in the way.

  5. Steve O'
    August 27, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Uncomfortable but appropriate picture of a thoroughly nasty bunch of tyrants and their henchmen. The disappearing Nikolai Yezhov killed his predecessor, Yagoda of the NKVD; a few years later, his slaughter had grown to such a level that Stalin ordered Beria to kill him and take his place.
    Perhaps there are too many amoral bureaucrats around our parts these days, too.

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