The public seems to have this dual perception of physicians as if we are the smartest, yet stupidest people in existence. For instance, there is a certain infallibility that doctors are expected to have when it comes to medical care. You didn’t diagnose a rare presentation of a disease? You’re going to get sued. You failed to order a CAT scan on a person with a chief complaint of “mild headache,” yet has no fever, no neck stiffness, no focal neurological findings, and is perfectly awake and oriented, only to later find out that the person has a hemorrhage? Time to hand in your license. That non-smoking, white collar worker has a cough and you didn’t bother to check for mesothelioma? I want you to meet my two friends Cohen and Cohen.
At the same time, however, the public has a perception that physicians are easily swayed by marketing gimmicks. Somehow if a drug rep gives me a free pen with the word Seroquel written on the side, I’m going to start prescribing the product to everyone that has a chief complaint of “feeling happy.” Those shining members of ethical practice known as Congress have decided that come January, drug reps can no longer supply free gifts to doctors. The thought is that physicians are too easily swayed by the cheap gifts given out by drug reps. Meals are still fair game because “they can be educational.” Textbooks, on the other hand, are no longer allowed because they are considered big ticket items. Somehow, a fancy dinner that costs $100 is considered more appropriate than a book with the same price.
How do doctors to get this dual reputation of being the most educated yet easily persuaded members of society? And where am I going to start getting my pens?