Saturday, July 03, 2004

Is Government Abetting Corporate Practice?

The June 29, 2004 issue of The Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts Department of Health will be requiring that hospitals treating stroke patients meet strict new quality standards. Under the plan, “ambulances will take suspected stroke victims only to hospitals that can prove that they will give prompt care to stroke victims and provide around-the-clock availability of brain-scanning equipment with radiologists and neurologists available to read the scans.”

I find this noteworthy, not only because it is a long-overdue effort to bring the care of stroke patients up to well-known standards, but also because the program is directed at hospitals – not at the medical profession.

In fact, one sentence in the article begins “Massachusetts hospitals that want to continue treating stroke patients must be able to quickly evaluate whether a patient should get [the drug] t-PA….”

I don’t know if that amounts to “corporate practice” or not, but to me it sounds awfully close.

(For the benefit of those who don’t follow such things, “corporate practice” has to do with physicians engaging in the practice of medicine as representatives of corporations rather than as independent professionals, something that the medical profession has long opposed. Some states have laws against it.)

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