There once was a goose that had the proclivity to lay golden eggs. Whether this was a genetic thing or a miracle is for others to decide. All the goose knew was that out came an egg that was 24-carat gold, just about every day. The goose’s owner thought this was a really sweet deal, but as is often the case, he decided to optimize his return by investigating the reason for this daily bonanza. This scientific concern was likely well-placed, but also had the result of terminating the goose’s existence, and in turn the golden egg production was terminated. Forever.
In a similar fashion, I have two uncles who donate their surgical and anesthesia services as volunteers for the humanitarian organization Esperança . Over the past few years they have traveled to Bolivia and Nicaragua and performed close to 1,000 surgeries for those who can least afford them. My father, also a retired anesthesiologist, has joined them in Jinotega, Nicaragua the past two years and just this past month assisted in 60 operations over a 5 day span, including thyroidectomies, cholecystectomies, hernia repairs, and other procedures. I was talking to my dad the other day and he told me of the adventures of working without an anesthesia machine (it broke) and the joys of monitoring the patients with just a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, and a pulse oximeter. Be it far from me to compare these men to a certain type of farm fowl, but these geese have been cranking out those eggs at a rapid pace, leaving a trail of hope and service in their wake.
Why would this sort of project be threatened? It appears that the malpractice insurance company wants my surgeon uncle to pay the full active premium in order to continue to participate in the endeavor. Currently he pays a much lower amount as he is retired and only assists occasionally back home in Tucson. One wonders why the malpractice insurance company would want to charge this extra amount for this type of humanitarian work. Is there an increased liability risk to the work he is doing? Not likely, as I doubt the 32 year old female with chronic gall bladder disease who traveled 36 hours for her life changing operation is of a mind to sue him for his trouble. I suspect that it is more likely that the insurance company is seeing this as an opportunity to gouge a subset of physicians that they haven’t noticed before.
Do I have hope that this will be reversed? Not likely. I do worry about the people in Bolivia and Nicaragua because I feel that if volunteers such as my family members can’t go on these trips anymore, then the people they serve are out of luck.
Sorta like, I suppose...their goose is cooked…?