Monday, December 5, 2016

A Bright High School Student

The Kentucky legislature recently required doctors to pass a course in abusive pediatric head injuries. I’m licensed in Kentucky as well as California.

With an afternoon to spare, I found an approved course on the internet, paid $30, and spent an hour reading a mass of information on the causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention, and my legal obligations when I encounter babies with brain injuries from abuse. I can’t remember any, but doctors regularly miss them.

I couldn’t possibly recall more than a fraction of that material, but there would be mass confusion if too many doctors failed, so the test at the end was easy. I printed a certificate of completion and filed it in case the Medical Board checked. They do that but not very often.

California requires every physician to pass a course on domestic violence and another on care of the elderly. After finishing Kentucky's mandatory AIDS course, I discovered that the Board had cancelled the requirement.

Doctors grumble about activists who persuade states to add their favorite subject to the education hours that we must all fulfill. But no one has solved the problem of keeping us up-to-date. Ninety percent of problems a G.P. sees are easy. A bright high school student could handle them. The remaining ten percent require thought, but even if we mess up, most patients do OK over the short term. That’s why fakes with no medical training but a professional manner can practice for years before a disaster unmasks them.