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Within hours of the news breaking about Michael Jackson's death, attention started to turn toward one of the only eyewitnesses to the event: his personal physician.

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Every doctor is entitled to a bad day, even a bad week.

Dr. Lawrence James Williamson (California License No. 73495), a family doctor in Windsor, Calif., has been having a very bad year.

In May 2008, Williamson was told he was not entitled to what he apparently thought was a free brunch at a Las Vegas hotel. He did something many denied a free meal have considered doing. He threw a fit, according to the Medical Board of California.

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When choosing doctors, people like to know the answers to a few basic questions.

"Do they have the right amount of experience?"

"Are they conveniently located?"

"Do they accept my insurance?"

Somewhere above, "Do they stock Popular Mechanics in the lobby?" and below "Did they go to medical school?" might be these questions:

"Do they abuse drugs?"

"Are they honest?"

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't issue policy statements all that often. When it does, the statements tend to be deeply researched and full of fodder for future stories. That's the case with the "The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children," which appears today in the AAP journal Pediatrics.

Picture of William Heisel

The Center for Healthcare Decisions has given itself a tough task. Its staff tries to bring together people from different economic brackets and get them to talk in very specific terms about all facets of health care.

Picture of William Heisel

President Barack Obama is searching for a new surgeon general. He might consider screening the resumes of doctors a little lower in the federal ranks.

Picture of William Heisel

This UCI orthopedic surgeon is on the shortlist for the U.S. Surgeon General job. He has been an outspoken critic of medical device companies and is fighting to limit the influence of money on medicine.

Here is a recap of our conversation:

Q: You were in Washington last year testifying before Congress about doctors who are paid by companies to put in certain medical devices. Did they understand why you were so concerned about this?

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Americans' penchant for rating everything from tech gadgets to restaurants to professional services online - sometimes in novella-length missives - is extending to health care professionals, and entrepreneurs nationwide are cashing in on the trend.

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Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are a form of insurance-financed managed care. In a managed care system, a health insurance plan pays a closed network of doctors and hospitals an annual rate for each enrollee regardless of how much health care that enrollee uses. If a group of enrollees uses less health care than the insurance company paid for in advance, the doctors and hospitals keep the difference as a bonus.

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