The Reward System under which NSW doctors operate

One of our readers claims that, some years ago, he was referred by the Optometrist, Paul McCarthy, to Dr Kerrie Meades, Ophthalmologist, for help with the double vision he found was developing, and that he subsequently spent 3 or 4 hours in her rooms, seeing her, in one brief face-to-face consultation, one of her associates, Dr Jennifer Sandbach, and various orthoptists – and learnt nothing!

He says their approach was to try and scare him out of his wits, telling him that double vision was a “difficult condition to treat,” which required “extensive investigation” and which could have  “extremely serious causes” – no doubt in the hope that he would keep making appointment after appointment after appointment.

But, that after he gave up on her and her people, he consulted another Ophthalmologist, Dr Ross Fitzsimons, who solved all his problems in 2 minutes!

(Our readers claims that, in 2 minutes, after he’d heard a brief history of our reader’s double vision, Fitzsimons said that it was incredibly unlikely it was caused by anything serious, but, if he wanted to remove any doubt, he could have an MRI of his brain – which he did, and it was clear. And that, if he wanted to solve the practical problems of his double vision, he could get prisms in his glasses, which, when he did, he went from being a danger to himself and other people on the roads when driving a car, to it being like he was in his 30s and 40s again – glasses with prisms in them not having been mentioned by anyone in the 3 or 4 hours he’d spent with Meades and her people.)

So a complaint about Meades was made to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.

Dr Meades response was pure fairy tale stuff – that our reader was “a difficult patient to treat,” as he refused to have “a cataract operation” as was “clinically indicated” so that, basically, she had given up on him – which of course, Sue Dawson and her people at the HCCC swallowed, hook line and sinker, saying that these things happen from time to time, relations between doctors and patients breaking down, and the complaint was dismissed.

Of course, it would have been kindergarten stuff for the HCCC to ask for a copy of the report that indicated that the reader needed to have a cataract operation, to support Meades claim, and if they had done that, that Meades was telling a lie would have become immediately apparent – because there was/is no such report. (Our reader says that a proper Ophthalmologist told him recently, more than 8 year later, that he still doesn’t need a cataract operation!!!) (Or perhaps, there was a report, but the person who provided the report was also a liar.)

But, of course, that’s not the sort of thing Sue Dawson and her people do – ask doctors to provide anything to support their claims.

In her response to the HCCC, Meades made two other claims that our reader says are lies – that Dr Sandbach sent him for blood tests and an MRI? Again the HCCC could have asked for copies of the results if this had happened – in fact they could still ask Meades for copies of these three things, if they were at all interested as to how they got things so wrong, which of course they wouldn’t be. No doubt, if they did this, Meades would have some really bad luck story about how all her records for that period had been accidentally destroyed!

Long term readers of the posts on this blog would be familiar with all of the above. So why have we mentioned it again? Because, after more than 12 years of working on interfacing with the medical profession, on helping ourselves and others to find the best health care workers, doctors in particular, to deal with, and to avoid those who may not be the best, something that’s recently started dawning on us, which we find particularly disturbing, is  that perhaps under the reward system that operates in NSW it’s better to be a Kerrie Meades than a Ross Fitzsimons, that the Kerrie Meades are busier, and make more money than the Ross Fitzsimons.

And something else, different but related – that after we were told by someone who would hardly be likely to be not telling the truth, that it’s the “norm” for NSW Specialists to make “contributions,” (others would call them “bribes,”) to GPs and so on to help them in running their practices, that perhaps Optometrist Paul McCarthy referred our reader to Meades to ensure that he would keep getting “contributions” from her??? After all, you would have to think that he made the referral, either, because he had no idea as to how bad she was, or, for some other reason, like ensuring he would continue to get “contributions.”

If this is at all like it is, it would be making it even harder for us the people, you and me, to find the best health care workers, doctors in particular, to deal with, and to avoid those who may not be the best.

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