Doctors in America: We Used to Have it Made. What the Heck Happened?

No profession generates more crime or more pain

No profession generates more crime or more pain

Ever thumb through the pages of a medical journal in your doctor’s waiting room? If so, you might have noticed a sad trend in the articles by doctors, for doctors.  They appear to be a lot less chipper than they used to be. In fact, much of the content is downright irritable. The common theme seems to be, “We used to have it pretty good. But not anymore.”

Physician forums nationwide bemoan that there are now far too many fingers in the medical cookie jar. Some of those fingers are grubby and some are just plain rude and shouldn’t be there at all. Who are these people? What’s going on? This is our turf.

Well, now that you’re asking, here’s what we think:

An FBI report in 2007 revealed that just about half of all hospitals were being investigated for coding fraud. Since we have almost exactly 5,600 hospitals, we’re sure you can do the math.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice ’09 annual report stated law enforcement spends 1/2 trillion taxpayer dollars a year on physician crime and medical fraud. Let’s all take a moment to ogle all those zeros:


In the last five years alone, more than 300 lab coat lunatics have been convicted of performing unnecessary operations, including one raving maniac surgeon in New York, who admitted to 10,000 unneeded eye operations.

The National Academy of Sciences reports 7,000 citizens die each year because of childlike doctor handwriting.

Yeah. They really do.

The Patient Safety Benchmark Center found surgical errors cost insurance companies 1.5 billion per month.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons shows 3,400 doctors behind bars, including 204 for murder.

Last year alone, 2,490 American MDs were convicted of serious misbehavior.

Between 2000-2009, 11,000 doctors were found guilty of crimes.
American ‘disease care’ has achieved the ignoble distinction of now being the leading cause of death of healthy people – meaning 678 innocent folks – give or take – die everyday who shouldn’t.

The  watchdog group Public Citizen estimates there are 250,000 doctors listed in the National Practitioner Data Bank considered “Dangerous” or “Questionable.”

But guess what? YOU don’t get to know who they are. So as a paying patient, you just have to show up and . . . you know . . . take your chances.

And so, dear and glorious physicians of America, we ask you this:


If you were a legislator throat-latch deep in the turmoil of health care reform; if you were the CEO of an insurance company that underwrites doctors (knowing their propensity to ignore their miscreant peers);

If you were merely a logical observer or trier of fact, how much confidence would you have that medicine ought to continue to police itself?

I mean . . . considering all those hands in that cookie jar.

Happy New Year, readers. Stay vigilant. Never let a lab coat trump your common sense.

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2 thoughts on “Doctors in America: We Used to Have it Made. What the Heck Happened?

  1. Marilyn Jay says:

    Hi Patrick: In this article do you mean the ‘leading cause of death’ or ‘the leading cause of preventable death’?
    I have seen stats showing medical mistakes as being the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the US – which is certainly bad enough, but have not seen anything showing it as #1.
    Do you have a source you could pass on?
    Thanks for all your work here.

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