Monday, May 05, 2008

Pay Gap Among Medical Specialties

With Mary thinking about medical school, I've been paying more attention to articles on medical economics and related issues. The WSJ had another front page article on the subject today. Among other things, the point is made that physicians whose specialities call for running patients through high-tech tests make a lot more money than physicians whose specialty requires them to spend time talking to the patient in order to pick up clues as to what is wrong with them.

This reminds me of a recent experience involving a young college student in our church. She came back from a mission trip to Haiti last Christmas with stomach problems. Everyone at church immediately thought she picked up something from the food or water there. But her university is in Orlando and so she went to physicians there, mainly GI doctors who put who through a number of tests, including an endoscopy. The main GI doctor, who was supposed to be a premier physician, dismissed any relationship to the Haiti trip. Finally, she came back down and saw an infectious disease physician at the UM med school who specializes in tropic diseases. He asked her a few questions and hardly examined her otherwise. He immediately identified the bacterium and prescribed the medicine. She's now fine - more than three months later and at a huge cost in money and time. My guess is that the GI physicians in Orlando make a good deal more than our infectious disease physician in Miami.

So what do we do about that? How about asking our government to deal with that problem? Now there's an idea. (Actually, the government already has a great deal to do with the problem.)

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