This Is Our Reality

“Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self- destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.”   – O’Brien, from “1984”

For some of you that have been reading my stuff over the years, this may seem repetitive.  If so, good!  It needs to be screamed again, and again, to really sink in.  If you are a medical student, or even entertaining the idea of entering this self-destructive profession, then listen up, and take heed, and open your eyes.

While I did not cross-reference or double-source it, this horror story rings very true.  It is about a physician who was targeted by an isolated, unsubstantiated complaint, which led to her hostile interrogation, and mandatory referral to an out-of-town recovery center for in-patient evaluation.  There was no right to appeal, there was no clinical diagnosis given, and this “physician’s health program” became part of a chain of events that ended in this physician’s death by suicide.

The way this story is written is indeed wide open for interpretation.  The final triggers, last days, and even method of suicide are not disclosed.  The author does not address whether his wife had any history of substance abuse or other mental illness, which would have been very relevant.  In fact, I thought this story read flimsy and vague in a number of areas.  So why do I buy it?

I’ve heard this story before.  In 1993, my second-year med school class was treated to a lecture by a local pediatrician over very high regard, one to whom the local medical community all sent their children.  One afternoon at his office, he had a visit from state agents informing him that they had received an anonymous complaint against him regarding illicit substance abuse, and that based on that alone, he would have to close his office and submit to an in-patient evaluation for up to five weeks if he wished to keep his medical license.  The pediatrician immediately called his lawyer, and was able to keep his office open.  After several weeks of fighting with the state and several thousands of dollars out of his own pocket, it was discovered that the complaint came from a previous employee that he had fired for embezzlement, who had threatened upon termination to get revenge.  It was later discovered that she called the Board of Medicine from the courthouse where she was about to be sentenced.  This story was told from the horse’s mouth, warning us all about the way the bureaucracy actually views us.

So while I think our featured story leaves something to be desired, I am not being pulled blindly into passing on an emotional tug from one sad widower.  The public has been trained by the government, trial lawyers, and popular media into believing that physicians are not to be trusted, a state from which I see no recovery.  If you are in this profession, you are a target and not presumed to have the same civil liberties as those who would accuse you, anonymously or otherwise, on the basis of no evidence.  If you are called into any sort of “recovery program” evaluation, the decision has already been made, the diagnosis already determined in the minds of your inquisitors.  Any of us in such straits, even on threat of license forfeiture, should immediately clam up, and refuse to speak without a lawyer present.  Our society for all its blather about “freedom” does not extend this to its physicians, as it proves daily.  Today’s physicians cannot trust patients, colleagues, hospitals, or state officials.  A career in medicine, I think, means a life of earned paranoia.

And if you are a medical student or in pre-med, I urge you, for your own health, stop, and try to think of another path.  These are sad, scary days.

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Pat Conrad MD

Pat Conrad is a full-time rural ER doc on the Florida Gulf Coast. After serving as a carrier naval flight officer, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the Tallahassee Family Medicine residency program. His commentary has appeared in Medical Economics and at . Conrad’s work stresses individual freedom and autonomy as the crucial foundation for medical excellence, is wary of all collective solutions, and recognizes that the vast majority of poisonous snakebites are concurrent with alcohol consumption. 

  4 comments for “This Is Our Reality

  1. Steve O'
    November 17, 2019 at 11:21 am

    This new American mindset of the 21st century is simply another flavor of ressentiment, a voodoo morality that thinks that if one pricks one’s finger to give one’s own blood to create a malign potion, one can magically call down suffering and bleeding upon a hated enemy object. I find Nietzsche in some places stirring, in others awful; but he is due thanks his gift of pointing out ressentiment.
    The doctor of yesterday was a noble woman or man who had the burden of making decisions of life and death. Nowadays, such responsibility is loathed and feared. Anyone with the hubris to make such decisions must be opposed at every turn; and let the committee decide the action.
    Ultimately, it is a worship of the God of Nature; let nature take its course, as we did when we dwelt in caves. We are returning quickly to our primitive selves, and the prospects are rather dismal.

  2. Steve O'
    November 17, 2019 at 11:07 am

    The horror that is revealed upon investigation of the German citizens’ minds during the Nazi era, is a flaccid paralysis of reason; the housekeeping habit which organizes and tidies up our beliefs to conform to reality. One could easily discuss, say, the Jews, and provoke a citizen of the time to range entirely from stating a rather empathetic tolerance of Jews in society (“after all, I have a childhood friend who was a Jew, etc.”), within a few minutes to a red-faced, spitting condemnation of all Jews and endorsement of the extermination camps.
    I find that susceptibility far more terrifying than dealing with one who has simply an immovable, obstreperous hatred towards a party, race or other group. Such people are simply deluded. They cannot be led by suggestions that conflict with their thoughts.
    By this measure, most Americans resemble the Germans of the Nazi days, susceptible to provocation to any manipulation by deliberate propaganda.
    And for corporate medicine to survive, it must extinguish the principle of the doctor. Of course, there is no need to build expensive camps and such to destroy them; simply show doctors as loathsome worms to the public, and they will dutifully demand their elimination, even thought medicine without doctors is what the people of the Third World suffer with.
    Non-human entities, whether corporations or governments, control much of our world, and we subjugate ourselves to a comfortable complicity; or else participate in faux rebellions that are driven by, and improve the lot, of the inhuman entities.
    We have brought this on ourselves. If people wish a world in which the Authorities will act out our every resentment, we will have a slave morality that entraps everyone. This is nothing new or clever. It is the opposite of freedom. Why we have settled for this is not clear to me.

  3. November 16, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    This story is all-too-believable, even though most of our colleagues are in denial. Russian proverb: You’ll know it’s true when it happens to you. See:

    My advice to young people: Learn a trade. Then go to medical school IF you really have a calling, but be able to earn a living as a welder, plumber, electrician, etc.

  4. John Hayes
    November 16, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Pat, this is so beyond sad. Beyond that though are there ”liability” and protective mechanisms physicians can implement for protection against these actions by BORs and the like?

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