Champions of Excellent Medical Care

Marion Mass, M.D., Practicing Physicians of America, co-founder

Female mature doctor examining little girl – closeup

Over twenty years ago, I was a fresh new attending, barely out of residency when called to the ER at three am to admit a patient with gastro and dehydration. I found a two -year old little girl, whose family spoke almost no English. She looked uncomfortable, her abdomen was distended, her platelets were slightly low and her potassium was slightly high. Her eyes had no sparkle. On her x ray, she had a paucity of gas in the right lower quadrant. These are all the signs of an intussusception, and needed an emergent enema to try to reduce the telescoping of bowel. The patient had been there for over four hours.

The ER doc, an old seasoned veteran was at the nursing station yukking it up with the nurses. I’m sure he had had a rough night. After I read him the riot act, for not calling sooner, I called the radiologist, who told me he’d handle it at six am when he came in. I politely told him I had no problem calling the hospital CEO and legal right away to let them know of the risk to patient and hospital. He came in immediately. (I offer mercy, as I don’t know what else in their lives these two physicians may have had that distracted them, and God knows, I have had my own mis-steps over 23 years)

All of us should call anyone who stands in the way of excellent patient care: “Disruptor of Patient Care”.

There are a subset of docs that will always speak for the patient, that would put their jobs on the line before they would allow shoddy or inappropriate care. A subset of administrators and government officials call us “disruptive doctors”. Nope. We are Champions of Excellent Medical Care. We are the ones America should trust for the solution.

Some physicians cannot be as vocal as the Champions of Excellent Medical Care. Many have gargantuan loans, many care for their parents, or have a houseful of children. We all must offer mercy to those physicians, who cannot be as vocal. Many of those physicians are spreading the word and supporting the Champions of Excellent Medical Care. The percentage of both of these groups are growing. We are ready to jump the chasm in the chart below.

Some physicians are tired, or scared, or disenchanted. Some are at the end of their career, and don’t want to become “champions” because they will have to call out friends in doing so. Friends that may have become administrators, politicians, industry players.

Some think we must move slowly, take measured steps. True patient champions have been woke for years, or now, newly woke, run to the long-existent code occurring in American medicine. We don’t aspire to place a band aid on a hemorrhage. COVID-19 has opened all of America to knowledge of how bad things have been.

Some physicians have not yet dissected the whole system to see and understand all the players who are the Disruptors of Patient Care. Please do so! Hint: FOLLOW THE MONEY!!! Here are two resources:

1.A primer on corporate care

2.Solutions and rationale for reducing cost and waste that will increase access.            The Free2Care white paper was presented April 2019.  The ideas are supported by the Free2Care Coalition: 8 million American patients and over 70,000 US physicians!  As a coalition of groups, each group does there thing and we come together surrounding ideas.  There is no one group in charge. Go team!

Some physicians know exactly how the system works and sold out, now working as leadership in organizations that take vast monies from the corporates. Some of these organizations have wonderful physicians who are foot soldiers, and are trying to change these organizations from within.  

I’ve had a tiny fear of being fired my entire professional life, for being a Champion of Excellent Medical Care, but deep down, I reasoned that if I put the needs of the patient first, how could I be doing the wrong thing?  Bottom line for all of us who want to be champions: allow us to give our patients, every patient, the best care possible If you choose to disrupt us, we will first ask you nicely to get out of the way, but then will breathe fire at you until you do.

That two-year old little girl… she got her enema, her intussusception was reduced, and the dull eyes I had looked into at three am were lit with a sparkle. I smile still thinking of that sparkle.

Jump the chasm, physicians of America. Sparkle. Do not be some physician: be the physician America’s patients need right now. Be the solution!

Be a stellar doc

Be a Champion of Excellent Medical Care!

With thanks to an old friend and a new physician friend for their inspiration. We all have many muses. I believe they are both champions.

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