Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Friday, July 14, 2006

physicians and unions

Why I'll never join a doctor's union:
The death of a patient in Goettingen, central Germany, is being blamed on weeks of strikes by doctors demanding better pay and conditions. The physicians involved assert that the patient's care was not compromised but a manslaughter inquiry is underway....

Doctors at the University Hospital in Goettingen, central Germany, were in their 13th week of strikes when the 57-year-old patient, named only as Elke S for legal reasons, suffered a fatal heart attack. She had been scheduled to have an intracardiac catheter fitted on June 2, but the operation was put back a week because of the protests, even though poor results were recorded when an electrocardiogram was carried out. The patient died 2 days later on June 4 after her condition worsened at home.
From the latest Lancet, probably no free text. I think by choosing to be a physician you have to put care of patients above your personal interests.


At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Lindsay said...

This is very sad.

Is there no way for German physicians to wield political leverage without putting patients at risk?

B/c you're right, the responsibility of a physician is to his patient, not to his own personal interests.

But physicians deserve to be well-compensated, they shouldn't have to resort to striking to be heard and respected in wage bargaining.

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let's see.. One patient died because doctors are livid with working long hours and making ZILCH income.. VS. how many people dying because doctors decide to stop practicing in this region due to abysmal conditions?

Sometimes unions serve a purpose..

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work as a therapist in a hosiptal in Germany before I moved to the US.
My salary was significantly higher than the salary of many of my physician collegues, only that they had a higher degree of eduaction and worked more than twice as much as myself: night shifts, weekends... and physicians had not been getting any compensation for all of these additional hours, neither timewise, nor finacially. And again: many of the salaries were too low to support a family! How would you like that, Dr.Andrew MacGinnitie?

By choosing to be a physician you have to put care of patients above your personal interest...
In the US, one out of seven is going without health insurance, because he can't afford it. And once he does need medical assistance, he's screwed, because he'll be charged even more than a patient who does have health insurance.
How do you handle these cases, Dr.Andrew MacGinnitie? According to your post I assume that you don't charge a patient for your treatment if he can't afford it? How many hours a week do you volunteer to treat people who are in need - for free?

"manslaughter"! What's "manslaughter?
a) physicains in university hospitals going on strike while all other physicians in all other hospitals all over the country are working to support their striking collegues?
b) physicians going on strike because they've been trying everything else for years without getting any results?
c) physicians having to make the decision to either be layed off or agree to working 48-hour-shifts or longer and still having to perform surgery on human beings at the end of their shifts?


I personally believe that it is very easy for you, Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie to post a judgemental article like this, while you're being well payed for your work.

I also believe that it is wrong to use the term manslaughter, because it creates an image of Germany that is misleading for what that country is today - but it is still believed to be true by too many people in this world.
Would you have used the term "manslaughter" if the strike had happened in ... let's say Switzerland?

Shame on you!

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Wormie said...

It an unfortunate incident. I do sympathise with the patient. However as a doctor, I know for a fact that early intervention need not necessarily have prevented the untimely death. Worse, the patient may have died on the table.

It is good to know that you are still living with your ideals but to use the term manslaughter I think is not fair when not much facts is known.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger In2commerce said...

Mansalaughter , come on, Mansalaughter is not exactly what has to be used to describe this. The Doctor's have an explicit and implied responsibility to provide care and although not Much facts are know , but everything being equal the charge of manslaughter is indeed tough.


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At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Viagra Online without prescription said...

I think that it is good that they demand better payments and environment but you have to be aware that you are in control of humans lives. So You have to take care of them first.

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At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Will said...

Sorry that the patient passed on.

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