I'm Not a Doctor

A second opinion on the challenges and opportunities facing today's physicians.

Things I saw at the AMA meeting: fashion, media and quick retorts

11:30 am, Jun. 25

Among my random observations from the recently concluded annual meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates was that there was at least one fewer mustache and one fewer bowtie this year.

Dr. Richard Frankenstein, former California Medical Association president, was sporting a new clean-shaven look. But when I noticed this one of us was on an escalator and the other on the stairs, so there wasn't an opportunity to inquire about the fashion statement.

Frankenstein was an unsuccessful 2010 AMA Board of Trustees candidate, and 2010 was the last year the AMA had a contested election for the office of president-elect. It should be different in 2013, as trustees Dr. Joseph Annis, an anesthesiologist from Austin, Texas and Dr. Robert Wah, chief medical officer with Computer Sciences Corp, Falls Church, Va., have already announced their candidacies for the post. Wah finished 10th on this year's Modern Physician/Modern Healthcare 50 Most Influential Physician Executives list.

One thing that happens during every annual meeting is that downtown Chicago's population of bow-tie wearers spikes noticeably. This year, however, the group by was down by at least one, as Dr. Joseph Bailey Jr., perhaps the House of Delegates' dean of Southern gentlemen, did not attend.

In an e-mail, Medical Association of Georgia spokesman Tom Kornegay said Bailey had to attend to a personal matter. Kornegay added that no one in the MAG office could determine the last time Bailey didn't attend the annual meeting.

Among those in the Georgia delegation was Republican Congressman Tom Price. Price, a physician, is a regular at AMA events, but he never issues a news release, posts a Facebook update or sends a tweet about his appearances there. The annual meeting was no exception.

Yes, I know politicians don't necessarily publicize everything they do. But during the time of the AMA meeting, Price alerted the world to his appearance on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" show and noted on Twitter and Facebook that he was looking forward to addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington.

One more thing that happens every year is that some delegates save up their favorite anecdotes and wait for the right time to unleash them on their peers.

A discussion of about using family members, often children, as interpreters in hospitals and doctors' offices allowed Dr. Peter Lavine, an orthopedic surgeon and District of Columbia delegate, to get in a zinger.

Lavine said the practice works fine for him and then sat down to wait for the inevitable anecdote about an embarrassing situation in which a child had to interpret information about a sexually transmitted disease.

Lavine quickly got up to reply that someone always brings up the STD issue, but he said an 8-year-old child can do just fine as an interpreter "when discussing mom's broken toe in my office."

His statement received a positive reaction, and he sat down looking very satisfied.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.


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