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Dear Secretary Price,

In the wake of the recent failure to pass the American Health Care Act, I would like to share with you some reflections on the state of American health care from my perspective as a resident physician at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta’s public hospital, where you trained in orthopedic surgery more than thirty years ago.

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  • Possibly the most significant letter Dr. Price will receive as the new Secretary of HHS. Pundits have criticized him for looking out for physicians’ financial welfare over the patients’ needs. So, a letter like this to him may be the trigger to get him to take the oath he took when he became a physician more seriously. Thanks for sharing!

  • I worked at mostly public hospitals my entire nursing career. The people were grateful for the small things we did for them. Today, I look back on those memories, the patients and families I met and the professionals I worked with. They were great times and I would not give them up for a minute. We have to be fair to all….always

    • I’m not interested in nitpicking decisions and proposals on either side of the aisle. I’m simply disdgusted at the country’s inability to understand the reality that republicans and democrats are both going to have to compromise if there is any hope of breaking this broken system. Name calling and grandstanding (which is all this article represents) are counter productive and turn a blind eye from the true issues.

    • Cooper can’t cite even one instance of humane and compassionate behavior on Price’s part. Besides, coming up with actual examples would be “nitpicking.”

      The Republicans are the ones refusing to compromise, Cooper. That’s why they can’t even agree with each other enough to pass a healthcare bill now that they have their chance to “repeal and replace.”

      The Democrats are willing to work with the Republicans to improve the ACA. Throwing it out entirely just because the Republicans hate Obama and don’t want him to get credit for any major accomplishment is a non-starter.

  • Well, wait a minute. Orthopedic surgery is an honorable profession that brings comfort and hope to many people. They work long hours. They are compensated well (see below).

    But most of their procedures do not involve life and death issues (see top 25 procedures below). Nor are they concerned primarily with individual life long or population health outcomes. Except for critical spinal or oncology issues, most orthopedic surgeries involve “patch them up and send them back home or to work”. Their professional perspective provides little special insight into how to lower costs and raise outcomes in the American health care system.

    Secretary Price, in particular, has shown little interest in a better functioning American health care system. He has long advocated a pre-Medicare, pre-Medicaid, pre-Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) world where the upper middle class and the wealthy get world-class care and everyone else gets charity. He is not the right person to be leading this effort.

    Tweak the ACA to make it work. Most of the solutions are already in the law.
    Info available from many sources, including Wikipedia:
    According to applications for board certification from 1999 to 2003, the top 25 most common procedures (in order) performed by orthopedic surgeons are as follows:

    Knee arthroscopy and meniscectomy
    Shoulder arthroscopy and decompression
    Carpal tunnel release
    Knee arthroscopy and chondroplasty
    Removal of support implant
    Knee arthroscopy and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
    Knee replacement
    Repair of femoral neck fracture
    Repair of trochanteric fracture
    Debridement of skin/muscle/bone/fracture
    Knee arthroscopy repair of both menisci
    Hip replacement
    Shoulder arthroscopy/distal clavicle excision
    Repair of rotator cuff tendon
    Repair fracture of radius (bone)/ulna
    Repair of ankle fracture (bimalleolar type)
    Shoulder arthroscopy and debridement
    Lumbar spinal fusion
    Repair fracture of the distal part of radius
    Low back intervertebral disc surgery
    Incise finger tendon sheath
    Repair of ankle fracture (fibula)
    Repair of femoral shaft fracture
    Repair of trochanteric fracture

    A typical schedule for a practicing orthopedic surgeon involves 50–55 hours of work per week divided among clinic, surgery, various administrative duties and possibly teaching and/or research if in an academic setting.”

  • The judgements set forth in this article that paint Dr. Price and anyone who agrees with him – and particularly tying those judgments to some unilateral personification of Grady Memorial – falls very short of grace. What is the purpose here in describing a physician as “immoral” and utilizing the stories of unfortunate patients to sway opinion without presenting any semblance of an alternative? I work at Grady as well and I can assure all readers that this article does not represent the entire story.

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