The Doctor, the Patient, and the (Labor) Union

Author: 
Paul S. Friedman, MD
Article Type: 
Commentary
Issue: 
May/June 2000
Volume Number: 
5
Issue Number: 
3

In recent years, there has been an unparalleled assault upon American medicine impelled by the desire to transfer control, power and money from physicians to government and, more recently, to managed care entities.

One of the attacks against this basic medical ingredient has been delivered by HMOs. Now, as a response to increasing intrusions by these corporations into the patient-doctor relationship, it is being suggested doctors join unions.

Physicians, nevertheless, are professionals who serve patients after arduous and advanced studies in college and medical school. Then, there is internship and residency and grueling hours. With service as his prime purpose, the physician continues to improve his state of knowledge and expects adequate financial reward for his services. Professionalism of this type cannot flourish in a unionized environment.

Health care corporations, staffed by physician members and designed to deliver medical care, have been established in several states. I was one of the early members of the Pennsylvania Health Care Corporation, which is now functioning in southern Pennsylvania. Unionization is another story.

Although (labor or trade) unionization has been proposed as a remedy for the attacks on medicine and physicians, it is not the answer. I have been associated with unionization both as a supporter and as an opponent. When the National Education Association (NEA) was being formed, I thought then and think now that unionization and professionalism cannot exist together.

The NEA has become an autocratic, antidemocratic group contributing greatly to the destruction of the education system in public schools. The NEA is a reactionary group that uses its resources without member approval to oppose necessary changes as school choice and improved scholastics. It has committed vast sums of its money to the political arena, without member approval. It has contributed to the creation of the massive bureaucracy and over-administration of public school system and the consequent decline in the quality of teaching. That, similarly, would be the effect of (labor) unionization on medicine and medical practice.

Unionization and professionalism are incompatible, and they cannot coexist. Physicians should not form (labor) unions, but instead be counted upon to stand for medicine and their patients.

Dr. Friedman is a radiologist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(3):105. Copyright ©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

No votes yet

It is now legend the AAPS legally lanced the secret task force and pulled its secrets...into the sunshine. It destoyed the Health Security Act.


The Oath of Hippocrates
and the Transformation of Medical Ethics Through Time


Patients within a managed care system have the illusion there exists a doctor-patient relationship...But in reality, it is the managers who decide how medical care will be given.


Judicial activism...the capricious rule of man rather than the just rule of law.


The largest single problem facing American medicine today is the actions of government...


The lessons of history sagaciously reveal wherever governments have sought to control medical care and medical practice...the results have been as perverse as they have been disastrous.


Children are the centerpiece of the family, the treasure (and renewal) of countless civilizations, but they should not be used flagrantly to advance political agendas...


Prejudice against gun ownership by ordinary citizens is pervasive in the public health community, even when they profess objectivity and integrity in their scientific research.


The infusion of tax free money into the MSA of the working poor give this population tax equity with wealthier persons...


It was when Congress started dabbling in constitutionally forbidden activities that deficit spending produced a national debt!


Does the AMA have a secret pact with HCFA?


The lure of socialism is that it tells the people there is nothing they cannot have and that all social evils will be redressed by the state.


Canada's fatal error — Health Care as a Right!


The Cancer Risk from Low Level Radiation: A Review of Recent Evidence...


...Moreover, the gun control researchers failed to consider and underestimated the protective benefits of firearms.


Vandals at the Gates of Medicine — Have They Been Repulsed or Are They Over the Top?