More Ignorant Doctor Bashing From Matthew Yglesias

The liberal blogosphere provides tremendous benefit, but also includes bloggers who post their solutions to problems when they don’t have the slightest bit of understanding of the subject. Last June I chastised Matthew Yglesias for his advocacy of “doctor-crushing” as a solution to problems in health care. He had another ignorant and irrational attack on the medical profession a couple of days ago. He wrote:

Ezra Klein points to a study with this striking conclusion:

[A] year after surgical teams at eight hospitals adopted a 19-item checklist, the average patient death rate fell more than 40 percent and the rate of complications fell by about a third, the researchers reported.

He finds reason in this to once again bash doctors, mistakenly believing that doctors were opposed to such progress. Fortunately, as in the case of his earlier post, many of his blog readers are far more intelligent than Yglesias.

Check lists such as that which Yglesias and Klein find of value are already in place in many hospitals. Measures such as this are being proposed and implemented by the very doctors which Yglesias loves to demonize.

It make for an easy blog post to attack doctors for doing something wrong whenever the medical literature provides recommendations for doing things better. The irrationality of this mind set is rather obvious.

As in every other field, there are likely doctors who resist change but contrary to the claims made by Yglesias, the medical profession in general would prefer to make changes which reduce patient deaths and complications.

Yglesias makes the claim, without any evidence to support his misconceptions, that professional organizations are analogous to unions and that they are opposed to progress which improves patient care. Neither of his assumptions are correct. Again, the studies which show the benefits of of changes demonstrate that searching out improvements is being done by the medical profession itself.

Ezra Klein writes, “Hospitals are dangerous. Surgery is dangerous.” Klein and Yglesias seem to think that hospitals are only made up of doctors when they consider such dangers. As I discussed in December, there are many sources for problems in hospitals beyond doctors, with outdated and counterproductive hospital policies often persisting despite the wishes of individual physicians.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    MilHealth says:

    I agree. You would think most in the health care arena are committed to reducing medical errors. I work with the Military Health System and our patient safety program is well received, given the environment that our medical personnel work in.  We actually have an Army doctor and nurse on the MHS podcast today who will be discussing this patient safety program from Baghdad. We should ask them how military doctors feel about such “checklists”, from their point of view.

    oh, here’s the link to the program if you’re interested.

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