No doubt, as in any human endeavor, there will be people who try to break the rules or take shortcuts and violate common sense in research or patient care. However, concerns over that small minority should not rise to the level where rules oppress everyone, stifle creativity, and take the joy out of clinical and academic pursuits.
Like any complicated enterprise, organized medicine is now encased in an enormous bureaucracy that is increasing costs, limiting care, and—regrettably—discouraging people from pursuing what is one of the most personally rewarding endeavors imaginable: To give life and help another human being. For that endeavor to prosper, I think that it is time for those in organized medicine to back off from their apparent intent to regulate everything.
By the time you read this column, the 2007 Boston ACR meeting will be over, and I am sure that it will have been a great success. While scientific meetings are about progress and a look into the future, they should also be about the past. Americans need not go back to the time of the Revolution to learn about history. They need only go back 20 years and study what made K.C. Jones a masterful coach. Jones recognized genius and, when necessary, he was willing to toss his champion the ball and tell the others to get the hell out of the way.
I think it is time for those who oversee medical care in this country to try a new approach: Ask your players what works and, whenever possible, sit on the bench and let them play the game.
Dr. Pisetsky is physician editor of The Rheumatologist and professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.