The Florida Medical Association’s new tagline: Profits before Patients

Mike Whitely of WorkCompCentral reported this morning that the Florida Medical Association has decided that their doctors’ profits are far more important than patient safety.

Sure, they’re hiding behind grand words such as “patient choice” and “return to work”, but those are just code words for “we’ll sock taxpayers and employers for as much as we can as long as we can, and to hell with ethics.”

The president of the FMA, one Miguel Machado, said last year “encouraging patients to comply with prescriptions ensures that they will get back to work sooner.” His legislative lead said:

“The FMA maintains that physician dispensing of medications is one of the most effective means of patient compliance, which means injured workers can return to their jobs sooner.”

There are two issues here; one is the FMA’s inability to support that statement with any research, and two; the fact that physician dispensing is outright dangerous.

Truth is there is not one shred of evidence that dispensing drugs results in faster return to work or better outcomes.  There is NO DATA, no research, no information, no studies, no indication whatsoever that physician dispensing does anything positive; unless you count enriching doctors, repackaging companies, and the firms that enable those practices as positives…

And let’s not forget it enriches investors, specifically ABRY Partners, that own physician dispensing companies.  And yes, that’s the same ABRY that also owns TPA York Claims and MSA firm Gould and Lamb. (Nothing against York, mind you – the people I know there are very good and very committed to doing the right thing for their customers)

There is a plethora of evidence indicating that ending outrageous profiteering on physician dispensed drugs does NOT end the practice of physician dispensing, but it seems Machado’s medical degree did not come with even a basic understanding of science or statistics.  If it did, he would be able to read WCRI’s report on California which showed no significant decrease in physician dispensing after CA tied the price of repackaged physician dispensed drugs to the original manufacturer’s price.

The second issue is even more troubling.

Machado’s doctors don’t have access to pharmacy databases that retail stores use to prevent potentially deadly drug interactions. Pharmacists in retail stores are required to check computerized databases to ensure the drugs they are dispensing don’t conflict with other medications their patients are taking. There’s no such requirement for Machado’s doctors.  And, because most work comp claimants are seen by docs who haven’t seen the patient before, the treating physician doesn’t have a complete medical record – or access to one.

So Machado’s words ring completely, unequivocally, blatantly, hypocritically false.

I don’t know what it will take to convince these hypocrites of the error of their ways; perhaps news of the first – or second, or third – patient death caused by a fatal drug interaction from a physician-dispensed drug. It is horrible indeed to consider, but when one remembers Florida is the same state that refuses to fund its prescription drug monitoring program and waited years before closing pill mills, it may well take multiple deaths before the FMA does the right thing.

Kudos to Sen Alan Hays, DMD for his principled and active commitment to fixing this problem.

If you want to let the FMA know your thoughts on this, their number is 800-762-0233; even better, their twitter handle is @FloridaMedical.

Of course, it’s up to you, but you may want to tweet something like “@FloridaMedical’s drug dispensing position puts #ProfitsBeforePatients”.

Michael Gavin at PRIUM has a somewhat more measured but equally disappointed view…

 

3 thoughts on “The Florida Medical Association’s new tagline: Profits before Patients

  1. May be time for Florida to adopt the “non-subscriber” option available to employers in Texas!

  2. Seeing the length to which some physician groups will go to circle wagons, rather than protecting the integrity of their profession, has been one of the more discouraging aspects of this debate.

  3. Pingback: Health Wonk Review: Baby New Year Edition « Wright on Health