This is my column in June’s EM News.
‘But you’re a rich doctor, right?’ Have you had that conversation? There’s a certain expectation of physicians, that we’re all just filthy rich, overflowing with boxes of cash tucked neatly away beneath our gilded beds.
When we were building our house, our builder talked with my wife: ‘Jan, I want you to meet me to look for counters and cabinets. Don’t bathe the kids. Put them in dirty play clothes and don’t wear anything nice. Don’t ever tell them your husband is a doctor.’ He’s a wise man. What he knew was that the word ‘doctor’ means ‘cash.’ Or at least, means ‘cash’ to the popular mind.
I wonder if this perception is the reason patients come to the emergency department and say things like this: ‘I don’t have any money to go to the dentist, so I came here.’ It’s the belief that we come to our jobs already in possession of large amounts of money. Granted, there are some physicians who come from wealthy families. The majority, however, do not. And no one does that to any other professional. ‘I’d like a house built to order, and I know you’re a rich contractor. I can’t pay you, so get to work! Or else I’ll sue!’
Nevertheless, from patients to insurers, real-estate agents to contractors, attorneys to government and hospital officials, the belief is straightforward. MD means ‘Mucho Denaro.’ Witness the hospital in Pennsylvania that recently began Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*