We can’t know how you happened upon our little tirade, but we’re guessing you didn’t find our book next to the magazines in your physician’s waiting room. Pity, because we fail to see a better place for it. Still, your personal bookshelf will do nicely, in which case you may file this one under Reality Check, if you like, because that’s precisely what you hold in your hands.
Most MDs in the U.S. have a book nearby called the PDR – Physicians Desk Reference. Well, here’s a PDR of a different sort. Rest assured, in the realm of clinical diagnoses, A.D.D. no longer merely stands for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Some of you may wonder how America’s Dumbest Doctors came to be. It isn’t really that long a tale. For years we waited patiently (pun inescapable) for somebody of appropriate angst to come along, sort through the pyramid-of-Giza-sized accumulation of goof-ups, and assemble them into an enlightening work. It would have been particularly cool, we thought, had a doctor chosen to shine a penlight into the recesses of his or her own profession. After all, they do take such pride in policing themselves. An elucidation of physician faux pas was decades overdue. So we tended to our own daily chores in disease care and we waited. We responded to 20,106 emergency calls, and we waited some more. And you know what? It just didn’t happen.
They just wouldn’t . . . you know . . . fess up.
“I was always under the impression that putting a doctor in jail was a rare event. My opinion changed recently when I discovered this book. The encyclopedia of doctor’s misbehavior. For me, it was a very interesting and a very painful read. BUT…. THANK GOD, I AM NOT LISTED INSIDE!”
And so we began to wonder, who else might do such a project justice, if not doctors themselves? Well, nurses certainly could. Nobody on the planet, Lord knows, holds a more accurate view of inner sanctum lunacy than do these talented professionals. It is nurses, after all, who are insulted and assaulted, spat upon, pushed aside, denigrated, groped and more, all on a daily basis. So much so that within the sequestered halls of medicine (and not a few court rooms) a shameful phrase now echoes off the walls. It’s called “disruptive physician” – demeanor which encompasses a wide-range of child-like deportment, sort of like the sixth-grader who tends to get mean, throw things around the classroom and generally fails to play well with others. By the year 2000, academia was replete with studies detailing the undeniable connection between nurses walking away from the profession, and physician foibles. The resulting impact on patient outcomes is ugly and obvious.
Yet even nurses, opting to protect their livelihoods, have always elected to remain relatively silent on the absurdities they endure so often. To be sure, a number of terrific exceptions have been penned over the years. Still, the ongoing circus of physician screw-ups, poop and boo-boos rolls merrily along everyday, does it not, preposterously under-published.
And we’ve always wondered why. Why no exasperated pharmacist with a prescription-scribbled migraine had yet taken up the pen. Why no maddened physical therapist, O.R. tech, nurse practitioner, administrator, x-ray pro, perfusionist, nor orderly has ever raged, “For God’s sake, enough!” and cleared the air. Going postal? How about somebody going “medical,” in righteous defiance, just once?
For there exist, we now know, entire armies of health care experts with spooky tales to hoist your hackles, but you would scarcely guess it by visiting the library. Or by watching network news.
So after 25 years, with our personal pile of funny little notes bulging from a dust-covered briefcase, it finally dawned. Okay, so maybe we’re slow. But the torch was ours to carry. A paramedic would just have to do it. We, the ruffians in blue, those rogues of rescue, the only characters in the entire scheme of advanced medicine who run around outside, faces awash in the fresh air of clarity. It does, in the end, make perfect sense. Who else orchestrates advanced emergency treatment with not a singular hospital staff, but many dozens? Who else arrives on accident scenes time after time, to find bewildered physician-bystanders with literally no clue what to do, absent x-rays, labs and nurses to orchestrate the treatment plan? Who else, by virtue of our nifty 24-hour shifts, is likely to be around at all, to witness bonehead moves by doctors, at any hour of any day?
And so it comes to pass, from our unparalleled perspective, that three unequivocal points ought now be carved into the stone of medicine’s Rushmore:
- Many of the finest primates in our country can be found wearing lab coats, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude
- Many of their wackiest peers graduated from the very same medical schools
- Some of the most confounding characters in society scribe MD after their names
And we thought you might want to know a little more about them.
It’s that simple. The birth of America’s Dumbest Doctors.
Have a terrific Halloween weekend, readers. Thank you for visiting us, and do watch out for at least these two spooks who have the nasty habit of hiding behind a friendly face:
Creepy Clowns & Daffy Doctors.