Do not be fooled by photographs

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7560.202-b (Published 20 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:202
  1. Richard A Rosin, consultant psychiatrist (richard.rosin{at}med.va.gov)
  1. VA Medical Centre, Puget Sound, Seattle, WA 98108, USA

    EDITOR—Mahaffey is spot-on in the sentiments he expresses regarding the devaluation of medical professionals, notwithstanding the glossy photographs displayed in various foyers or lobbies depending on where you happen to be.1 Much of what he says could equally be said of the US healthcare system.

    The difference is that the devaluation of doctors perpetrated by “managers and jobsworths,” as he puts it, is committed by insurance companies and hospital administrators (who do you think the United Kingdom learnt it from, after all?) in the pursuit of money. However, being business people they tend to be a bit wilier, so they put up glossy photographs of distinguished and eager looking medical staff—with glittering teeth and commercial looking smiles seemingly derived from motivational seminars. Thus the impression is created that these business functionaries value doctors. And they do: inasmuch as doctors provide services from which business parasites are able to extract a sizeable cut.

    There is widespread frustration in the US medical profession for reasons not unlike those cited by Mahaffey. The flashy pictures of hospital staff do not tell the whole story. We should not be fooled by photographs, or any spin for that matter. If the pictures were a genuine reflection of the underlying reality then that would be a different matter.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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