Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How's your Doctor?

I don't go to the doctor much. It's a lot easier to tell if I have a good car mechanic than if I have a good doctor. And now, with health insurance premiums eating up every free dime and then some, I really have to need an office visit to justify shelling out for it. But I digress.

I picked my doctor because I rode mountain bikes with him and he seemed like a good enough guy. He's never really impressed me, but he hasn't hurt me yet. Another guy I know can't say as much. He stopped going to my doctor after a mildly botched vasectomy. Ouch. Obviously it isn't something I can easily bring up to my physician, but it certainly makes me think twice about what I'll let him work on. So basically I figure I don't really have a doctor. I just have someone's office staff holding my medical records for me.

Days away from an age at which one is supposed to submit regularly to undignified procedures to stay ahead of the early signs of various fatal conditions, I ponder my choices. I can't really afford to pay out of pocket for any of those expensive indignities, so I am unlikely to suffer them, but if I wait for spectacular symptoms to tell me I'm finally sick enough to suck some money back out of the insurance company, my odds of survival go down.

Say, for the sake of argument, that I had played the game of life properly and attained something like the national median income for my demographic. With some chance of actually using a physician on a regular basis, I would want to choose carefully.

I think physicians should be required to keep a copy of their school transcripts, right back through high school, out on the table in their waiting room. Read the out of date magazines if you want. I'd be poring over the doctor's academic history. Sure, grades aren't everything. A wise physician would keep some supplemental biographical information out there as well.

Better still would be a central place, perhaps a website, on which one could compare all such information for physicians in the area. It would have to be mandatory to do any good. If physicians could merely choose to subscribe, both good and bad might be left out.

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