By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Apparently local hospitals have marketed what they tout as a big deal for the Syracuse Community. They are setting up what the news is reporting as being a free medical screening event whereby the ‘unserved’ general public can come and see doctors to get a medical evaluation and determination if a person is healthy or has a condition or situation requiring treatment.
I call ‘bullshit’.
Let us look at what is really being offered. First, we have to assume that the intended market are those persons who do not have medical insurance or who cannot afford a primary care physician. A person with coverage is not going to need free coverage. The truly poor who are recipients of Medicaid are also not going to be in line for free screenings because they too have medical care when they need it and access to a primary care physicians when they want it. Same with the affluent and those who have insurance; there simply is no need by this segment of society to get in line and get a free medical screening.
So, that leaves what I term, ‘the walking dead’. These are the folks who do not qualify for Medicaid, have no medical insurance, and cannot afford to have a family or primary care practitioner. Generally, these are the folks who turn up in our emergency rooms for simple procedures because they have nowhere else to go. There is also a portion of the population who is not properly served by either Medicaid or their own insurance who might also take advantage of the free screenings.
Now, let us assume someone takes advantage of the generosity of the free screenings, stands in line for hours, endures a scopy of one type or another, and is told that doctors do indeed suspect the person has a condition, situation, or medical issue requiring treatment. Note I said ‘suspect’ because no doctor in such a setting would dare issue a total diagnosis because of the risk of lawsuit.
Instead, doctors will note a suspicion of one thing or another – and then what? Do the hospitals intend to treat or further explore any conditions they discover? My instincts tell me that doctors and other medical personnel are told to refer the patient to their primary care practitioner. Now, I may be an uneducated unenlightened arrogant old fool but if a person had a primary care physician, they wouldn’t be at a free screening event in the first place.
No, the hospitals will not treat conditions discovered. Medications will not be delivered free of charge. Tests and other tools for determining diagnoses will not be used. No hospital will offer its doctors, clinics, or resources to care for the person or condition presenting itself.
To me, this whole situation is a marketing gimmick by medical providers seeking to increase their market share by providing a so-called community service. It is a joke and frankly, a shame. Doctors and hospitals need to step up. Medical providers need to follow through with these clinics and provide complete diagnoses and treatment; that is what the market is crying out for.
Doctors are legally, morally, and ethically obligated to treat the patient in front of them. In this situation, it would appear they are abdicating their primary responsibility. After all, it is a greater harm to see a person in need of medical treatment and then just show them the door.