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NOT some corporate administrator or insurance company representative. When it comes to patient safety, I agree with American Medical Association President-Elect Peter Carmel, M.D., DMedSc. and his comments last night at the New York Academy of Science. Dr. Carmel is a professor and chief of neurological surgery (adult and pediatric) at UMDNJ. He is also an internationally recognized expert in pediatric neurosurgery, who previously held the position of professor of clinical neurological surgery and the director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, in New York City. Because he has saved and helped thousands of brain damaged and spinal cord injured patients, he knows first-hand how important the decisions to treat, operate and medicate can be. They are often life and death decisions, and delay can be fatal.

To have people who are not medically trained or who have a profit motive making critical health care decisions steals the patient’s right to self determination, leads to expensive delays in treatment and invades the province of the treating health care providers. While everyone involved in health care delivery is acutely aware of rising costs and increasing patient safety, the trend toward taking the decision-making authority away from doctors and placing it in the hands of corporate executives and insurance managers will lead not only to greater expense, delay and utilization, but will disrupt the sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship and erode confidence in the medical profession.

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