Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
In recent months, several independent medical
practices have disappeared from rural towns in the southeast United
States. At first, Southern physicians suspected a conspiracy, alleging
that someone dismantled their practices and sent them north as salvage.
Northern physicians deny these accusations, however, citing similar
occurrences of their own.
Pieces of some of these practices have started to reappear in unusual
places. A nearly intact general practice from New Hope, Tennessee,
churned to the top of a Wall Street buying surge a few months ago.
Forty years of obstetrics evaporated in a sigh released by a physician
who withdrew to a retirement home in Knoxville. The last known house
call still surviving in captivity languishes in a managed care arena
near Chattanooga. An executive secretary, who spoke only with the
assurance of anonymity, reports seeing almost an ounce of compassion,
preserved in a small glass bottle on the desk of a well-known medical
executive. Independence, its head mounted on a varnished plaque, hangs
as a trophy in the office of a high-ranking federal official.
Lands RH. Medical Practices Disappearing in the South. JAMA. 1998;280(21):1823. doi:10.1001/jama.280.21.1823