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A recent article in the New York Times read like a John Grisham movie: the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating six for-profit-hospitals run by the Health Management Associates after several whistle blowers were fired for reporting practices that clearly jeopardized the health and well-being of innocent patients. There were reports of doctors forced to admit babies into the hospital who had normal temperatures of 98.7°F and called them “fevers”; clinics paid kickbacks for referring undocumented expectant mothers to the hospital, which would deliver the babies and then bill Medicaid; doctors forced to admit half of patients over age 65 who walk through the hospital door; a “score card” maintained by the hospital to make sure than physicians were admitting a specific number of patients whether they needed to be in the hospital or not and a hospital CEO who earned the ungodly sum of $22 million dollars who dictated clinically inappropriate hospital policies although he never set foot into a medical school for formal training. Welcome to the world of corporate medicine, where shareholders dictate the future of your health.

Did you ever notice how the number of physicians in private practice is shrinking, unless they belong to large groups? That’s not a coincidence, hospitals are buying physician practices and the physicians are becoming hospital employees. As the autonomy of physicians decreases, the safety and integrity of our healthcare system will also decrease placing many patients in harm’s way. According to the news article, when physicians questioned the unnecessary lab tests and hospital admissions and refused to do them, they were advised to “Do it anyway” or be summarily fired. The hospital was also about to be merged with a hedge fund and this merger now has the American Federation of Teachers’ union nervous because their pension has shares in this fund.

Pregnant women can no longer be passive participants in the management of their health. You most become proactive partners. Read about your medical conditions, know you’re your options are and remember that you are the ultimate decision-maker.