The Nation's Health + [Heart disease]

Heart disease: More catheterizations would make me happy!

I received this fax today from a cardiologist seeking a position:

"I would prefer to perform as many interventions [stents, angioplasties, etc.] as possible..."

That about sums it up, doesn't it? The goal of this young man, trained in major universities including Columbia University, Harvard, and Emory, is not to pursue an avenue of investigation or healthcare that yields real answers. His goal is to perform as many procedures as possible .

This attitude is deeply ingrained in cardiologists. It's also shared by all procedural medical specialties: the drive to do more and more procedures. It's not because it does more good for the public, but it fulfills a primitive impulse to spread your influence, enlarge your territory, and--of course--make more money.

Personally, I find this impulse repulsive. The fact that this young cardiologist looking for a position is willing to make this statement out in the open demonstrates how widely accepted this attitude is. Imagine your cancer surgeon, looking for a new job, said, "I'm looking to remove as many tumors as I can."

My colleagues have lost sight of the fact that we're trying to reduce or eliminate disease, not enrich our pockets or service some primitive impulse to beat others at our game.