I know of a hospital that recently went through the accreditation process only to be slapped down.  The slap down was severe enough that the accrediting agency is coming back in a few months to determine whether the accreditation will be retracted, leaving this outfit..well…out of business.  

Why is this important?  This hospital used to be one of the best hospitals anywhere in this part of the country.  What happened?  Quite simply, a change of personnel.  The good doctors left and some not-so-good ones came in.  This change was orchestrated by the administration in the usual “get-rich-quick” scheme that not for profit hospitals engage in.  They all seem to have a very high time preference, as the Austrian economist, Hans Hoppe would say.  Going for the quick money, forgetting the long term consequences, they often damn their long term missions or strategies.  

Forget the fancy new buildings.  Forget the advertising budgets or the sports team sponsorships.  What makes a great medical facility is the people inside.  The physicians that work there and the staff working for them.  That’s it.  Pretty simple.  I saw a great example of this last week.  A friend of mine reached out to me to help his nephew get to a surgeon that could help with a problem that the family had already been told required surgery.  I arranged for him to see one of the best surgeons I know, who specializes in this young man’s problem.  

OK.  You already know the rest, don’t you?  Greedy doctors prey on the sick, especially those who own their own facilities, right?  Hardly.  An exam and an MRI revealed that the young man plainly did not need surgery.  Nor did he receive surgery, as the people involved were the right people this time, unlike the prior surgeon who had been involved and had recommended an unnecessary procedure.  

One of my partners recently told me that some rich old man in Tulsa once said that doctors are like drill pipe:  remove one here or there and stick another one in his place. My friend’s nephew and his family would beg to differ.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.