“Don’t get too excited yet.”
Delivered to an audience of doctors and other medical professionals at the Annual Conference of the American Medical Association in Chicago this morning, those five words are perhaps the best advice ever given to medical doctors by President Barack Obama.
Delivered soon after the halfway point of his near-hour-long speech in favor of a government-run health care system, the five words of truth are shown below in boldface to provide context for how they were used in the speech delivered at the Hyatt Regency:
“Together, if we take all these steps, I am convinced we can bring spending down, bring quality up; we can save hundreds of billions of dollars on health care costs while making our health care system work better for patients and doctors alike. And when we align the interests of patients and doctors, then we’re going to be in a good place.
“Now, I recognize that it will be hard to make some of these changes if doctors feel like they’re constantly looking over their shoulders for fear of lawsuits. I recognize that. (Applause.) Don’t get too excited yet. Now, I understand some doctors may feel the need to order more tests and treatments to avoid being legally vulnerable. That’s a real issue. (Applause.) Now, just hold on to your horses here, guys. (Laughter.) I want to be honest with you. I’m not advocating caps on malpractice awards — (boos from some in audience) — (laughter) — which I personally believe can be unfair to people who’ve been wrongfully harmed.
“But I do think we need to explore a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first; how to let doctors focus on practicing medicine; how to encourage broader use of evidence-based guidelines. I want to work with the AMA so we can scale back the excessive defensive medicine that reinforces our current system, and shift to a system where we are providing better care, simply — rather than simply more treatment.”
Don’t get too excited yet? I doubt seriously that many doctors have any intention of doing that.
For the full transcript of President Obama’s AMA address, courtesy of the White House, click here.
* * *