One of the nicer things about having a blog is the ability to rant periodically about things which are maddening, but utterly out of your control. It is healthy to have an outlet for such frustrations, and although my dog seems to understand and cares deeply when I express my concerns about troubling issues, she doesn’t seem to fully grasp some of their subtleties. Hence I turn to my readers, most of whom are quite a bit more intelligent than my dog–although there have been a few notable exceptions.
The rant of the day has to do with our fine state legislators in the great State of Washington. Their noble accomplishments in the arena of healthcare in the State of Washington have included an utter inability to satisfactorily address the state’s spiraling malpractice crisis, phenomenally high rate of uninsured, the migration of physicians out of the state because of a hostile malpractice environment and dismal Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, and a punitive approach which attempts to recover the cost of their incompetence by treating all physicians as fraudulent. Be sure–when you hear Democrats talking about how they are going to solve the healthcare crisis–to take a close look at Washington State, where they control both the governors mansion (by coup) and the State legislature. Consider it a crystal ball into what might be accomplished at the federal level.
Nevertheless, our elected officials are currently considering legislation which will utterly transform the healthcare arena in the state–for which I am immensely proud. The State legislature is currently considering, and will likely pass, a law which requires physicians to have a certain number of hours of CME training in cultural diversity. Color me impressed.
Now, not that I am a culturally insensitive fellow–by no means. Some of my best friends are Democrats, after all. And I’m sure, in the big picture, that this is simply a tiny paper cut in healthcare’s death by 1000 cuts in this state. But for some reason, this drives me nearly insane.
Current state licensure requirements in every state mandate that healthcare professionals take a certain amount of continuing medical education (CME). This requirement, though largely unnecessary for most physicians (since they generally are well-motivated to improve their skills and knowledge without state requirements), nevertheless strikes me as at a reasonable requirement for medical licensure. Increasingly, however, the state is requiring that this continuing medical education be on specific, state-mandated topics. The camel’s nose under the tent began with a requirement that a certain number of CME hours be dedicated to education in medical liability. This was part of some sort of previous liability reform, which never accomplished its main goal of reducing medical malpractice and spiraling malpractice premiums, but nevertheless left a silly requirement in state law that physicians spend time thinking about how to reduce their liability–as if this is something they do not think about every minute of every waking day. Now we must dedicate an additional number of hours learning how to be culturally sensitive–which apparently means not telling overweight patients that they are obese, dining out at ethnic restaurants, and being careful to not offend our African-American male patients like telling them that their risk of prostate cancer is higher, or that the cultural diet they prefer is killing them through high lipid intake and hypertension. Keep in mind that most physicians are busy enough that time for continuing medical education, while important, is nevertheless a relatively scarce commodity. Spending time on extraordinarily stupid topics like cultural diversity means your physician is now spending less time at a conference to better manage your diabetes, or cancer, or improve his or her surgical or diagnostic skills. Of course, the moronic social engineers in our State legislature are far more interested in feel-good measures which paint them as “tolerant” and “sensitive” to improve their chances of reelection in a state which values quotas more than quality health care.
Sigh–I’m sure I’ll conform like the rest of my sheep-like colleagues to the new requirements, and rediscover yet again what a worthless, oppressive white male worm I truly am. Let’s just hope that some day, there will still be a few of us sheep left around to take care of sick patients.