Two things happened recently which are in my mind connected:
First, last month a brain MRI I ordered on a young boy showed a very small tumor, highly curable.Â The reason this is remarkable is that I ordered an MRI for a headache that was not highly suspicious.Â I don’t even think the headache was caused by this tumor, but there it was, quarter inch or so in diameter.Â I ordered that MRI and it got done.Â It would not have been done in any country that has socialized medicine because none of the factors that indicate a high risk for a tumor were present.Â None, except parental concern and my desire to serve my patient to the best of my ability.Â I should mention, too, that neither this boy’s parents, nor mine, were born in this country.
Secondly, Dr Sanjay Gupta was announced a few days ago as the new administration’s choice for Surgeon General.Â Dr Gupta is (coincidence?) a brain surgeon whose parents were (coincidence?)Â not born in this country.
The reason I think this is great is: as a neurosurgeon, Dr Gupta should remember the faces of the patients he saved because a timely MRI was made,Â and those he did not becuase the MRI came too late.Â The road to a neurosurgical career is far too arduous for anyone to undertake it becuase they like statistics; Dr Gupta had to have done it to see the lives he changed himself.Â And I expect him, an Indian-American, to understand why his parents chose to emigrate from a country that had a public health system to one that did not.
As did my parents.
And the boy’s.
I support Dr Gupta’s selection, in part, becauseÂ of his great skill in communication.Â I expect him to do what public health specialists notoriously do not: trace the effects of proposed initiatives down to the individual patient who will be affected, and communicate these concerns to the American people.Â Â I expect him to know the difference between health care that generates great statistics and health care that works for the individual patient — and I expect him to speak out against people who confuse the two though they should know better.
I applaud Dr Gupta’s selection, not because I think he will preside over a great health care revolution, but because I think he will do to the many insidiously well-meaning revolutionary proposals what he had done to the many insidious brain tumors: