The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: What if Your Doctor Wrote a "Tell All" Book?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What if Your Doctor Wrote a "Tell All" Book?

I just read an excerpt from Confessions of a Surgeon by Paul A. Ruggieri, M.D. It wasn't Grey's Anatomy raunchy, but it did serve up some "real life" drama in the operating room. Here is a mental conversation Dr. Ruggieri has with the difficult colon he is trying to remove. Yes, the colon...

"'You're going to earn your fee tonight, Dr. Surgeon.' The colon kept talking. 'I hope you're not in this business for the money, like the last guy who operated on me. Between what Medicare pays you, the phone calls in the middle of night and the time you spend guiding my recovery, I figure you will make about $200 an hour for this operation. How does that grab you?'
Should have gone for my M.B.A., I mumbled to myself. Big mistake going into medicine, never mind surgery. If I could only go back and do it over again. 
The colon's rant continued: 'Wait, subtract what it costs you in overhead to bill for this operation (double that if the claim gets rejected), plus malpractice costs for the day, and we are now at $150 an hour. And how could I leave out the biggest expense of all? The price of the mental stress from worrying about me after the surgery (and double that if there's a complication). Now, I figure you're under $100 an hour. Plumbers make more than that just to step inside your house. I bet they sleep well at night. Just remember, Dr. Surgeon, nobody put a gun to your head. You chose this profession.'" 
Obviously, HIPAA requires by law that we protect the privacy of our patients. I am a firm believer that the patient is the sole owner of their medical records/history, and by-no-means, should anyone administering their care compromise that.

Social media has really changed how everyone in all fields does business. We are a "share it all" culture no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Just turn on the TV and everyone all is giving "the inside dish" on their lives. But how much sharing - even if anonymous - is too much? Physicians are people too, so what's wrong with knowing their thoughts and feelings about their job? Or knowing they wish they had just gotten their MBA? What if you were the patient being written about anonymously, how would you feel?

When looking into his book further, I found another book by a different physician that seemed interesting too... I feel like Bravo already did a show on this (LOL, but I'm serious): 


There is a lot out there both anonymous and not regarding the life of doctors. I think that by the nature of how my blog evolved, I never considered blogging anonymously. And I also think that by having my name, not to mention all the other personal information about my life that you care (or don't care) to read, there is more accountability on my end when it comes to talking about my experiences in school.

On the flip side, I feel there should also be some privacy  preservation on the physician's end when it comes to the patient-doctor relationship. For example, we had a discussion the first week of med school about "What if a patient 'friends' you on Facebook? or tries to 'follow you' on Twitter?" Do my patients need to see the inside jokes I posted on the walls of my college roommates back in 2005? Or the millions of pictures I took of myself in the dorm before going out when I thought I was looking cute? LOL Things that make you go "hmmmm..."

How do you feel about knowing the personal life of your physician? What if they had awesome bedside manner and clinical skills, but then you read their book/see their Facebook, and they seem like a jerk? Would that change anything? Would you change doctors? I would love to hear what you think!
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