Malpractice TV

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First of all – I like doctors. Some of my best friends are doctors, and besides that my life was saved three times by doctors. The problem is that some doctors do not have the same high degree of professional ethics.

On May 13, 2009, "The Doctors" TV program was one of the most deceptive shows ever aired since the invention of television. The panel of TV doctors sometimes gives valuable information. More often, the medical information is dumbed-down and/or sensationalized – a lot of plastic surgery and sex talk. OK – it is a commercial TV show intended to entertain first and inform second. I get that. It is more difficult to understand how and why the doctors could sell their honor and professional integrity by participating in a program designed to give false information to the public.

Specifically, the false information was that insurance companies are necessary for an effective universal health care system. Can you name one nation on the planet that has a universal health care system that is based on for-profit insurance companies?

The problem with the May 13th show was that it dealt with a serious topic in a deceptive way. The summary of the show taken from "The Doctors" web site:

"The State of Healthcare in America. Have you ever been without health insurance, found yourself under-insured or worried about the rising cost of healthcare? The Doctors and a panel of experts give you real solutions to your healthcare and insurance problems."

How can there be an intelligent discussion about the crisis in health care without including a discussion of the merits of Single Payer – especially on the day after five were arrested at the Congressional Health Care Hearing. Those five arrests followed eight arrests of Single Payer advocates a few days prior. Certainly Single Payer is a timely topic that must be included in any serious discussion of the health care crisis.

The program never mentioned the Maryland school boy who died from a brain infection because he did not have access to dental care for an abscessed tooth. Also never mentioned was Edith Rodriguez who died on the Emergency Room floor after being ignored by hospital personnel for an extended period of time. There was no mention of the number of deaths caused by medical errors.

Also no mention of the controversial and sometimes dangerous system of ‘hospitalists’. In some areas, hospitals employ hospitalists who are MDs. It is their job to keep the patient’s own family doctor out of the loop when a person is admitted to the hospital – seems to have something to do with turf and money. Instead the TV program promoted the idea that health care in the United States is the best in the world. Where does the US fall in the statistics on life expectancy and infant mortality? One of the TV doctors stated that we have the most expensive health care in the world because we have the best care. Give me a break.

Never mentioned was the fact that 18,000 die in the US every year from lack of access to health care. How can 18,000 deaths be ignored – trivialized? That is like having a 9/11 every 60 days – but worse because we are doing it to ourselves. Who are the real terrorists – those responsible for 3000 deaths or those responsible for 18,000 deaths every year?

"The Doctors" can correct the errors of the May 13th program by giving equal time to a discussion of Single Payer. A follow- up show in the near future should be aired. Guests could include those who were recently arrested because of their support of Single Payer. Also Ralph Nader. Also Michael Moore. Also Russell Mokhiber. There is a long list of advocates who are available.

Watching "The Doctors" TV show can be injurious to health – the nation’s health. Seems that the producers forgot the rule – "First do no harm".

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Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. She was arrested, tried, and convicted for her participation in a peaceful protest of the war. The conviction was appealed and overturned in the State Supreme Court. The government then announced plans to retry the case. Finally, after years of legal proceedings, all charges were dropped. She contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from the US.

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