All Hail The Consumer

While I can’t deny the sleaze factor of our next story, I’ve got to admire the entrepreneurial spirit therein.  There is real adaptability in combining tech with a remarkable lack of ethics or even standards and applying it to the I-want-it-now retail mindset.  

A nurse of (charitably) dubious qualification has used Google to establish a bunch of virtual urgent care clinics, none of which actually exist, in Arizona, and some of which are attached to a Georgia LLC.  You can’t get in to be seen, but you can get texts back and forth from a “doctor”, who will call in prescriptions and bill you for a hefty “diagnosis fee.”  Simple, right?

Of course, you aren’t actually seeing a physician, so the value of your prescriptions may vary from worthless to dangerous, with no chance for any useful follow-up evaluation if the initial throw misses. 

The nurse in question is receiving scrutiny from the Arizona Board of Nursing for exceeding her authority.  But I wonder, did she even write these scripts, or was her name and license merely used as a front by some other party, setting up short lifespan virtual clinics” with as much longevity and traceability as prepaid cell phones?  Technology has moved fly-by-night pill dispensing from car trunks to low overhead, shadowy maps with the permanence of a mayfly.  Google is supposedly hot on the algorithmic trail in removing fraudulent business listings, but is that really their fault?

I’m not outraged over the gypsy pill purveyors, nor do I care if a state nursing board collects a scalp.  I have no sympathy for the board rep’s self-righteous statement, “If you don’t have the education to prescribe, you’re putting the public at risk.”

If someone bought a pair of hot speakers out of a van in a grocery store parking lot, would any of us feel sorry for them if they didn’t work?  The same principle applies here:  let the buyer beware.

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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 AuthenticMedicine.com . 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. 

  1 comment for “All Hail The Consumer

  1. Aaron M. Levine
    March 4, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    We have a neighbor hood posting place, Next Door. There was a request this week from someone for an urgent care center for an antibiotic shot. I just read along. The people wanted Walgreen’s but the local one changed it to a Jenny Craig. CVS has one. The people, nearly all with masters or better degrees, were recommending these clinics rather than the MD Urgent Care centers. The comment, was generally there was no waiting or short waits, they were in network and not expensive. Plus the prescriptions can be picked up without going anywhere else. The one key point, was they lamented that the PA or NP would not give an antibiotic shot.

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