Tired of low reimbursements? Want to supplement your dwindling income? Then take the stand.
An increasing number of physicians are boosting their incomes by serving as expert witnesses. For example, Tom Berger, M.D., an Asheville, N.C., cardiac surgeon, works part time as an expert witness, charging $500 an hour to review cases and $4,000 for a full day in court.
In the past, many physicians were reluctant to serve as expert witnesses because they dreaded testifying against their peers in malpractice cases. But less than 20% of the cases physicians testify in are malpractice cases, says Gerry Goldsholle, chief executive officer of ExpertPages.com, an Internet resource for lawyers looking for expert witnesses. Some 1,500 professional experts pay $195 a year to advertise on the site, and Goldsholle predicts more physicians will join in when they learn how profitable it can be.
No longer Stumped. Richard Stump, M.D.'s patients covered for him while he was on the lam--for 14 years--after escaping from a federal prison camp.
"Part of the problem would have been we're talking about a small-town doctor . . . who, as long as he treated (patients) well, was a friend," says Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark Robinett of Indianapolis.
No one in Muncie, Ind., population 60,000, broke the code of silence until a confidential caller tipped police that Stump was in town to visit his dying ex-wife. U.S. Marshals on Dec. 9 captured Stump, 75, without incident.
An Indianapolis federal court judge in 1982 sentenced Stump to 12 years in the Terre Haute (Ind.) Federal Prison Camp on 25 counts of illegally dispensing prescription drugs, a practice that may have added to Stump's popularity.
In October 1984, Stump walked out of the camp while guards watched television. He moved to Rialto, Calif., changed his name and got a job posting photos of missing children.
Stump, pictured below, seems to enjoy his lovable rogue image. He was so jovial during a jail house press conference the day of his capture that his court-appointed lawyer was moved to remind him, "This is not a game."
Deja vu. Middle-aged baby boomers are keeping plastic surgeons busy undoing the sags of time, but it could be only a matter of time before they can also opt to clone themselves at a younger age. Or so says Ronald Klatz, M.D., president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
The academy held its sixth international conference last month in Las Vegas. It attracted 2,500 attendees, 90% of them practicing physicians, Klatz says.
Conference highlights included a debate on the ethics of cloning, featuring controversial University of Chicago professor Richard Seed, who plans to clone himself, and presentations on a new laser device that may eliminate male pattern baldness.
The future of medicine is anti-aging, Klatz says, but not all of it is as extreme as cloning, which began with Dolly the sheep. "Oh, we're way far out," he says. "As far out as cholesterol testing, mammographies for breast cancer detection, fiber for prevention of colon cancer. We are really in the ozone."
Smoked out. The American Medical Association is supporting Big Tobacco!
Well, not exactly. But much to the consternation of a few AMA members, the group's Jan. 6-9 State Health Legislation Meeting is taking place at Loews Ventana Canyon resort in Tucson, Ariz. The hotel chain's parent, Loews Corp., also owns Lorillard Tobacco Co.
The American College of Preventive Medicine brought up the connection at the AMA's interim House of Delegates meeting in Honolulu. The college asked the AMA delegates to approve a policy to avoid scheduling meetings at any hotel with ties to a tobacco manufacturer. That would amend the AMA's 12-year-old policy, which merely takes a hotel's smoking policy into consideration when selecting a meeting site.
While many speakers supported the resolution's intent, many delegates wondered if it was practical. The committee assigned to review the college's resolution surmised it would "complicate the ability of our AMA to arrange for meetings and obtain good hotel rates."