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I was saddened and disappointed to hear Obama speak so disparagingly about physicians at his news conference on July 22, 2009. He stated that if a child had a bad sore throat or repeated sore throats, a pediatrician might look at the reimbursement system and see that he or she could make more money by taking the tonsils out.
Pediatricians do not perform tonsillectomies. Pediatricians evaluate the history of the child and recommend referral to an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT-otolaryngologist) physician or if the child meets certain criteria, such as sleep apnea, recurrent strep throats, or a history of a peritonsillar abscess.
The ENT physician makes the decision whether to proceed with the tonsillectomy based on the patient’s history and physical exam, not reimbursement rates.
The pediatrician does not receive a “kickback” for the patient referral. Obama spoke of unnecessary surgery and organ removal to boost profits. Medicine is an honorable profession and physicians treat patients based on guidelines and clinical judgment, not on reimbursement rates. I take umbrage at Obama’s criticism.
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