Culture and Society

How does government regulation impact health care?
Answered by Richard M. Satava
  • Richard M. Satava

    Richard M. Satava

  1. Richard M. Satava Professor, Department of General Surgery at the University of Washington


    Every single operation that was ever performed was different. But they have a generic number of things that are important. Here's where one of the impositions by government I think can perhaps be overcome some way: That's the 80-hour work week -- government mandating how long you're allowed to work. While there are some merits to that in my mind, it varies from person to person, and it varies from specialty to specialty. In the battlefield, quite frankly, I'm not allowed only 80 hours to work on the battlefield. When I go out there, I'm available whenever, and that's pretty much what we expect of our physicians.

    Unfortunately, I see more and more erosion, whether it be oversight or restriction of work hours and so on and so forth, of the ability of the physician and the patient to maintain that sacred doctor/patient relationship. It's going away, and a lot of it now is because of the intrusion of regulation. I understand the importance of fatigue. I understand the importance of being able to be fresh and ready to do your job and so forth. But I think we've gone a little bit, once again, well beyond what should have happened.

    More answers from Richard M. Satava »

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