Better off without a doctor?

Essays > Health

Grahi wrote this essay as a reminder to keep challenging and questioning the assumptions of most people.

What if doctors are not available?

It is almost unheard of for doctors to go on strike. In every rich western country, doctors are one of the most cosseted, overpaid, over-privileged groups in the entire community. They have nothing to strike for.The reason? Doctors’ medical associations do the dirty work for them. Medical associations deliberately limit the number of doctors that are licenced, even allowing for the maintenance of standards. The artificial shortage of doctors, the long training they have to do, and their promise to obey the rules set by the pharmaceutical companies, mean that those who are allowed entry to the exclusive club are richly rewarded.The pharmaceutical industry is only too happy to support this state of affairs. They want tight control of licenced suppliers of their products (licenced drug pushers) to maximise profits all round in the club.

There are a few doctors out there who have integrity. They entered the profession because they are genuinely interested in healing and caring for their patients rather than enjoying the wealth and prestige of the profession. My best wishes go out to such caring doctors.

Medical

Do your research

I personally try to stay away from doctors as much as possible. I always do my research before visiting a doctor. I value doctors for their ability to diagnose some (but not nearly all) ailments, and combined with my own research, they are sometimes able to diagnose a problem. I would also be most grateful for a doctor’s help if I had a severe infection or a serious injury.

List of doctors strikes

Life-threatening emergencies aside, what happens when doctors go on strike? Unfortunately most of the evidence is old, unofficial, and does not apply to today’s modern Western world. But look at the 2014 study below.

  • 1973. A month-long strike in Israel. The number of patient visits went from 65,000 down to 7,000. The mortality rate dropped by 50% during that period.
  • 1976. Doctors went on a 52-day strike in Bogota, Colombia. The death rate went down 35%.
  • 1976. Los Angeles County physicians went on strike for a month, refusing to handle low priority cases and elective surgeries. The mortality rate dropped 18% in this period.
  • 1983. A four-month Israeli doctors’ strike in 1983 had no official impact on mortality.
  • 1984. A short doctors’ strike in Varkaus, Finland caused a 70% decrease in patient visits and no evidence of harmful effects.
  • 2000. Israeli doctors went on strike and cancelled hundreds of thousands of visits to hospital outpatient clinics and tens of thousands of elective operations. Official mortality figures after the strike were not available, but the number of deaths dropped dramatically according to interviews by the Jerusalem Post of non-profit Jewish burial societies. These societies perform funerals for the vast majority of Israelis.

Cardiologists away at a conference

  • 2014. A study (1) looked at the effect of cardiac specialists being away attending conferences. It found that “High-risk patients with heart failure and cardiac arrest hospitalized in teaching hospitals had LOWER 30-day mortality when admitted during dates of national cardiology meetings. High-risk patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) admitted to teaching hospitals during meetings were less likely to receive percutaneous coronary intervention, without any mortality effect.”

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References
1. Anupam B. Jena, Vinay Prasad, Dana P. Goldman, John Romley.Mortality and Treatment Patterns Among Patients Hospitalized With Acute Cardiovascular Conditions During Dates of National Cardiology Meetings.JAMA Intern Med. Published online 22 December 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6781. Article

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