The View From Your Sickbed

More

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

The story of $15,000 for a needle in a thigh touches a nerve with me. As a surgeon, I'd have tried to find it using local anesthetic, in my office, before escalating to an operating room. With luck -- and since it was an insulin needle it couldn't have been very deep and would have been near the entry hole -- it'd have been a couple hundred bucks or so, including my fee and the use of a few sterile instruments. It's possible, of course, that it would end up requiring xray guidance; even then, it's hard to figure where the $15,000 went.

But here's the thing: no one would have recognized the savings, or even cared, much less rewarded me for it in any way.

Likewise, when I did breast biopsies in my office, with local anesthesia and comfortable patients, happy at not having to go through the hassles of  surgery at a hospital or surgery center, I saved thousands of dollars each of the many hundreds of times I did it. Again: no recognition, no reward. I just did it because it seems right.

This is part of what gets lost in the screaming rhetoric of the right, the death panels of Palin. Some doctors know how to save the system lots of money, and do so, every day. Establishing a means to discover them and to spread their wisdom is central, as I understand it anyway, to Obama's plan. Not rationing. Discovering why some methods are more successful and less expensive than others. Hard to understand, maybe; and very easy to demagogue. Which is exactly the problem.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down