Frustrated and afraid, doctor hanging up stethoscope
In a few months I will retire, after more than 35 years, from a job I love − the practice of medicine. I am retiring years earlier than I had originally planned. Although I can only speak for myself about my reasons for retiring, I hope my example helps the public to understand why it is so difficult to find a doctor in southeastern Connecticut.
I am not retiring early for health reasons; my health is as good as ever. I am not retiring because I cannot do the job well; in fact, my years of experience give me the wisdom to be a better physician now than when I was younger. I am not being driven from practice by new technologies; I embrace the use of computers and think they help me provide more comprehensive care.
I have two major reasons for retiring from my medical practice. The first is frustration. I feel drained by spending a large portion of every workday fighting on behalf of my patients against a system that puts profits above care. Our system turns a blind eye to those who can least advocate for themselves. It is a system that punishes those health professionals who care more about their patients’ quality of life than meeting the requirements of insurers. I find the medical part of my job, dealing with the wonderful people of New London County, refreshing, but I end each day worn out by trying to get my patients the care they need and deserve.
The second reason for my early retirement is fear. I am afraid that a small billing error, such as a misplaced number, will result in my being charged with Medicare fraud with possible criminal prosecution. I am afraid that by saying hello to a patient I pass in the supermarket I am breaking a privacy law and will be fined (and I am even more afraid the patient that I don’t say hello to will think I don’t care about them). I am afraid that an unfortunate outcome for a patient could lead to a lawsuit that takes away everything that my family and I have accumulated over a lifetime of work. I am afraid that my office computer will be hacked, which can lead to government fines of $100 per day for each medical record stolen. And I am afraid that unwarranted, heavy-handed government tactics could ruin the reputation I have spent years developing.
So, I will soon go from being a provider of medical care to a consumer of medical care. I hope that there are doctors left in Connecticut who will fight to get me the care that I need.
Dr. Jay Ginsberg has a practice in Montville.
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