As I read an ’article headed “Specialists Replace Family Doctors” in a recent issue of the Waccamaw Times, I was at first in disbelief, and then I was despaired and finally just plan mad.
Apparently the Georgetown Hospital System – which operates both the Georgetown Memorial and Waccamaw Community hospitals – has entered into a deal with an outfit called Eagle Hospital Physicians, to provide a group of their own doctors who will take over managing your care while you are in either hospital, rather than having your own primary caregiver do it.
According to Dr. James Principe, who is running the program for Eagle Hospital Physicians, it is, and I quote: “A win-win for everyone.” But I would suggest that such a move would do a lot more for the hospitals, Eagle Physicians, and some doctors than it does for patients.
He goes on to say that his company will provide ten doctors who are called “hospitalists” who specialize in hospital medicine. I unfortunately have had considerable experience with a number of medical specialist, including three heart physicians and other doctors who have treated a variety of other medical needs while I was a hospital patient. Not once have I ever had anyone suggest I have a hospitalist treat me in their place.
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Dr. Principe points out that – and I quote again – “If a doctor has a successful office practice and has only one or two patients in the hospital, it is often very difficult for the doctor to get to the hospital.” Dr. Principe goes on to say: “When the primary caregiver is at the hospital making rounds, patients in his office are in the waiting room getting upset because of the long wait.”
Translation : The doctor can make a lot more money seeing a patient after patient in his or her office at $100 to $150 a pop rather than going to the hospital to care for someone who selected them as a primary care physician. Most of us rightly or wrongly feel that the physician we choose has a sincere interest in our health and welfare. On the other hand, as a doctor I am sure that it’s a lot more relaxing going from room to room in your own comfortable offices to see people than it is the hit the road to visit them in the hospital.
In my opinion, the people and organizations that will benefit most from this program are:
• Eagle Hospital Physicians: This concern – like any business – was organized to make money. Their remuneration from patients and health care insurers – through the hospital – will of course cover the salaries of their doctors, along with all other costs, and most importantly, it will provide a profit for their organization.
• Georgetown Hospital Systems: What a windfall for these folks. In establishing what the Eagle Hospital Physician company is paid – while at the same time collecting fees from the participating doctors – they effectively control costs, which one might guess will increase their profits.
• Participating doctors: As noted above, these participating health professionals won’t have to concern themselves about their patients getting the care they need in the hospital. They obviously are abdicating any and all responsibility for the welfare of their patients, since it’s a lot easier and more profitable to outsource that job to others.
Frankly, the only losers I see in this situation are patients. Most of us make some effort to look into the qualifications of the doctors we chose. Under the Eagle Company plan, if you have to be admitted to either of the Georgetown Hospital Systems facilities, you will have absolutely no idea – or say-so – regarding who you might draw for a doctor or doctors, nor what their qualifications are.
For all we know, they could have been graduates of the Bora Bora School of Medicine, or done their internships in a facility for the criminally insane. Without any input what so ever from the patient, these same doctors will prescribe medications and recommend procedures for them.
I don’t oppose change and progress. This letter is being written on a computer, rather than my old Remington mechanical typewriter. There are things, however, that still are important to maintain as they are. Having a doctor that you know and trust, means much more than simply improving the “bottom line” for some businesses.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.