Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Is a bad doctor better than no doctor at all?

This seems to be the question confronting a North Dakota town, where a physician's license was suspended for inappropriate care, but many local residents want it reinstated.

It's of course hard to know for sure without being privvy to the particulars, but my impression is that it is hard to lose your medical license for poor care, so this guy is probably pretty bad. Not transferring someone for heat stroke because he was "brain dead" is indefensible (brain death is not something that can be determined easily, nor should it be done in the midst of an acute crisis).

Of course, he is probably good with his patients. This case underscores the difficulty patients have in figuring out what is and isn't good medical care (and this problem is not confined to small towns) and the degree to which a beloved doctor can provide substandard care, often (but not always) without much consequence.


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