By Nurse Mark
When is it wise to get a “second opinion” ?
No matter how “trusted” the doctor may be, no matter how “nice” and “caring” the doctor may seem, if there is a serious diagnosis involved, or an extended course of treatment, or multiple “scans,” or “tests,” or other “diagnostics,” there is a chance that a doctor might be wrong.
There is also a good chance that money might be playing a role in a doctor’s advice.
Many medical conditions involve incredibly expensive diagnosis and treatment – and much of that expense is in the form of profits paid to the doctors performing the diagnosing and treating. In many cases those profits reach to the millions of dollars.
Do you see any potential for problems here?
Insurance fraud, Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and a medical billing system that hides the true costs of medical care from patients all conspire to attract the greedy and unscrupulous.
If it were simple greed, if it were simple fraud, it would be bad enough – but it is often more than that. It is often people who are made to suffer for the enrichment of the fraudster. People like you and me. People who have suffered enough already.
Doctors have been known to tell lies.
Consider the case of oncologist (cancer doctor) Farid Fata, MD, who was arrested in Michigan on August 6 and charged with Medicare fraud in a federal investigation that, if the charges are true, is a sickening example of medical greed.
In this federal case investigators allege that Fata bilked patients and insurance companies including Medicare of some $35 million dollars over just two years, “treating” people unnecessarily for cancer.
That’s right, 35 million dollars! In just two years!
How could this happen? Federal investigators charge that Fata would see anywhere from 30 to 70 patients a day, and that almost every patient was found to “need” expensive, extended courses of chemotherapy – purchased from the pharmacy that Fata also owns. And of course those patients also needed expensive positive emission tomography (P.E.T.) scans, performed by the imaging company that Fata also conveniently happens to own.
Further, having established himself as a cancer “expert” Fata felt safe in bestowing false diagnoses of cancer on healthy patients – after all, who would doubt the word of such a respected “expert”? One of Fata’s Nurses told federal agents that “Dr. Fata falsified cancer diagnoses to justify cancer treatment” The Nurse explained that blood cancers were easy to falsely diagnose because Fata could “interpret” blood tests. In other words, he lied to patients to fill his pockets.
Further, once diagnosed with cancer, Fata would tell patients that they must take chemotherapy drugs “for life” – even if they were in remission or if their cancer was so advanced that they would get no benefit from the toxic drugs.
But surely this must be an aberration? Certainly this must be an isolated case of a doctor having become consumed with greed and lust for money right?
In another case, two executives of a hospital in Chicago as well as 3 physicians and a podiatrist were arrested by federal agents in April in a case involving illegal kickbacks for referring Medicare and Medicaid patients and other fraud schemes.
The worst scam in this case? It seems that the pulmonologist involved would perform an intubation (a procedure where a temporary breathing tube is placed into a patient during surgery) and would then drug the patient so heavily that it would become impossible for them to breathe on their own after the surgery. This would require another surgery to insert a tracheostomy tube through the front of the patient’s neck and of course an extended stay in the intensive care unit on a mechanical ventilator.
One of the individuals arrested was the president and chief executive officer of Sacred Heart Hospital. He was secretly recorded saying that tracheotomies were their “biggest money maker” and that the hospital could make $160,000 for the procedure if the patient stayed 27 days.
If that isn’t evil enough, it seems that this particular hospital had a hard time keeping those tracheostomy patients alive – the death rate for the tracheostomy patients of the surgeon involved was 3 times as high as other Illinois hospitals over a three year period.
Those involved in the arrests are also accused of unnecessary emergency department and hospital admissions, and were paid “kickbacks” for those.
Does all this sound like the plot for some sort of a medical horror movie? I wish that were so – but it isn’t – it is happening all across America because Big Medicine and Big Pharma are such obscenely profitable industries.
So, how can you protect yourself or your loved one?
Easy – insist on a second, and even a third opinion.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured or stampeded or panicked into a decision about a course of treatment. In cancer treatment the words “there’s not a moment to lose” or “we must start chemo immediately” are almost always a clear warning that there is something fishy going on.
Certainly there are conditions where “there’s not a moment to lose” – an acute abdomen or ruptured appendix, a closed head injury, a stroke, a heart attack, an embolism, severe trauma… all of these require urgent and skilled care. But cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, “bone-on-bone” joints, and other similar conditions are what we call “chronic” meaning that they have developed over time – often a long time – and rarely do they need to be treated so quickly that there is no time for a second opinion.
Even if a doctor is able to convince you that “there’s not a moment to lose” and persuades you to start a treatment regimen immediately, you can still get a second opinion. It’s not “against the rules” to be receiving treatment from one doctor and seek the advice of another doctor about that same issue. And it’s not against the rules to confront one doctor with the conflicting opinion of another doctor.
Beware of being pressured to undergo scans and tests and biopsies – these are often moneymakers for both the doctors and the hospitals. A sober second opinion from someone with no connection to the first doctor or hospital could end up saving you expensive, unnecessary, and possibly hazardous “diagnostic workups.”
An additional benefit of a “second opinion,” especially one from an holistic doctor (such as Dr. Myatt) is that an experienced holistic doctor can not only offer alternatives to conventional treatment, but if conventional treatment is truly indicated a good holistic doctor can find ways to make that treatment more effective and less toxic or harmful. And, in the case of a scamming doctor like Fata, having an holistic doctor like Dr. Myatt review the case would quickly expose any fraud and save the patient from unnecessary and harmful treatments.
Finally, having an holistic doctor (like Dr. Myatt) reviewing and overseeing your care can help to keep your specialists “honest” and can save you grief by helping you to coordinate care among different doctors, who often seem to never communicate with each other.
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