Patients count on their doctor to do whatever is possible to treat their illness. That is the promise doctors make by taking the Hippocratic Oath.
But President Obama’s advisers are looking to save money by interfering with that oath and controlling your doctor’s decisions.
Ezekiel Emanuel sees the Hippocratic Oath as one factor driving “overuse” of medical care. He is a policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and a brother of Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff.
Dr. Emanuel argues that “peer recognition goes to the most thorough and aggressive physicians.” He has lamented that doctors regard the “Hippocratic Oath’s admonition to ‘use my power to help the patient to the best of my ability and judgment’ as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.”
Of course, that is what patients hope their doctor will do.
But President Barack Obama is pledging to rein in the nation’s health care spending. The framework for influencing your doctor’s decisions was included in the stimulus package, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The legislation sets a goal that every individual’s treatments will be recorded by computer, and your doctor will be guided by electronically delivered protocols on “appropriate” and “cost-effective” care.
Heading the new system is Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor, named national coordinator of health information technology. His writings show he favors limits on how much health care people can get.
“Government controls are a proven strategy for controlling health care expenditures,” he argued in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March 2001.
Blumenthal conceded there are disadvantages:
“Longer waits for elective procedures and reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices.”
Yet he called it “debatable” whether the faster care Americans currently have is worth the higher cost.
IBDeditorials.com: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- The Attack On Doctors' Hippocratic Oath