Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2003
Why don't doctors work on a contingency fee basis like lawyers do?
Rex Morgan, M.D.
Dear Ars Longa Lex Brevis,
"Tell us another story," said the nurses. "You're so frightfully clever, Uncle Wonderful."
"My goodness," I said. "Then someone had better pull out another blanket. It looks as though it's getting cold in here, and those uniforms must have been made during a thread shortage."
"Budget cuts," they giggled.
"God bless short-sighted fiscal policy," I murmured, putting another ice cube into my mescaline IV.
Six months later, I woke up in Corpus Christi, Texas, with a bloodhound licking strawberry preserves off my face. I wore Larry Hagman's hairpiece and the scars on the insides of my thighs spoke of laser tattoo-removal surgery. I had three parking tickets pinned to my chest.
"That damned left turn at Albuquerque..." Never again would I let night-school nurses drive the hovercraft.
My point is this: I've frequently been in hospitals. Sometimes legally. And let me tell you about contingent health care: It wouldn't work, for very metaphysical reasons.
Lawyers have their contingency fees paid out of successful cash settlements. What's a doctor going to get for saving a life? A percentage of the life? The patient becomes 15% slave? Successfully set a broken leg and you can use that person to kick your enemies two months out of the year? "I'll guarantee you reattached fingers - or I don't get my back scratching."
I shan't even mention what the oral surgeons would claim.