April 29 2014

Doctor: I Spend Two Hours a Day Filling Out Federally-Mandated Forms

Charlotte Hays

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

In my 23 years as a practicing physician, I've learned that the only thing that matters is the doctor-patient relationship. How we interact and treat our patients is the practice of medicine.

      --Dr. Daniel Craviotto Jr.

But it is this doctor-patient relationship that is being destroyed by federal mandates created by bureaucrats who are not doctors, according to Dr. Craviotto. In a piece in today's Wall Street Journal, the doctor hits upon the paradox of ObamaCare: despite advanced billing, ObamaCare eventually will make the quality of medical care much worse for most Americans. It is almost impossible for a doctor and patient to develop a relationship under the ObamaCare regime.

In the brave new world of ObamaCare the doctor has something far more important to do than mere healing: filling out forms. Endless forms.

Dr. Craviotto spends two hours a day dictating and documenting health records on for the federally mandated electronic health records (EHRs), although a RAND Corp. study commissioned by the American Medical Association found that “poor EHR usability, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, inefficient and less fulfilling work content, inability to exchange health information between EHR products, and degradation of clinical documentation were prominent sources of professional dissatisfaction."

The piece ends with a cry from the heart:

I don't know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.

We could change the paradigm. We could as a group elect not to take any insurance, not to accept Medicare—many doctors are already taking these steps—and not to roll over time and time again. We have let nearly everyone trespass on the practice of medicine. Are we better for it? Has it improved quality? Do we have more of a voice at the table or less? Are we as physicians happier or more disgruntled then two years ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago?

At 58, I'll likely be retired in 10 years along with most physicians of my generation. Once we're gone, who will speak up for our profession and the individual physician in the trenches? The politicians? Our medical societies? Our hospital administrators? I think not. Now is the time for physicians to say enough is enough.

Doctor Craviotto's call for doctors to refuse Medicare is likely to be controversial, as numberous Americans have come to depend upon government-directed health care. But it is happening already and it just one indication that increasingly physicians can't make a go of the practice of medicine under the current system. I wonder what will happen when talented young men and women decide against careers in medicine because the intrusion of government turns doctors into federal functionaries. 

The U.S. once had the best medical system in the world. It was innovative. It developed new medicines and treatments. Many of us were lucky enough to have an admired family doctor who walked us through family health crises.

This will be irredeemably lost if ObamaCare is not replaced with real reform before it is too late. Dr. Craviotto’s article is called “A Doctor’s Declaration of Independence.” Let’s hope more doctors and patients are willing to stand up for American medicine.

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