Why Are Oklahoma Doctors So Bad

Earlier this year, Peter Greene, the author of the blog Curmudgucation, posted an absolutely hilarious directory of what he terms, “anti-teacher trolls,” along with detailed descriptions.

Peter’s slathering use of satire and sardonic wit makes most of my posts seem tame by comparison. If you want to laugh, read this POST. Keep reading through the comments. They are almost as good as the article itself.

My favorite from Peter’s list is the “fake statistic troll.”

It’s a known fact that 63% of teachers failed high school shop class, and 43% are unable to even dress themselves. If you have a bad teacher in Kindergarten, it’s a proven fact that you will make $1 trillion dollars less in life; also, you’ll be plagued with adolescent acne until you’re 34, and your children will be ugly. 92% of high school graduates last year were unable to read, and 46% of those were unable to even identify the English language. Also, 143% of urban teachers are “highly ineffective” and 52% of those are “grossly ineffective” and 24% of those actually give off waves that cause metal surfaces to rust. I ask you, how can we continue to support public education under these conditions.

We are getting all too familiar with these types of silly statistics thrown at public schools to remind us how awful we all are.

What brought this back to my mind was an article from the Daily Oklahoma Editorial Board in this morning’s paper. The essence of their editorial was that schools in Oklahoma suck, that teachers suck, and that school administrators are just trying to avoid facing the reality that we all suck. They close with the quote that “denial is a poor battle plan for school improvement.”

As evidence for our terrible state of suckiness, the DOK writers throw out several “numerous independent measurements” to support the recently released A-F school grades, which, as I have already said, report that many of our schools are just lousy. These damning statistics include figures from the ACT College and Career Readiness Report; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report; passage rates on Advanced Placement tests; proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests for 4th and 8th grade reading and math; college remediation rates; and military ASVAB scores.

The article also republished a statistic cited by State Board of Education member Bill Price last week that asserted there was an 86 percent correlation between API scores and last year’s A-F grades. Mr. Price gave no source for this statistic and since the OKSDE has removed the API data from its webpage, there is no way for anyone else to corroborate or refute it. I actually have no idea how Mr. Price was able to correlate current A-F letter grades to previous API numbers so his claim is almost as valid as Peter’s statistic relative to teachers causing metal surfaces to rust.

Finally, the authors imply that administrators didn’t complain about the previous API system because we believed that few parents understood it. Yeah, you caught us. We never thought parents would figure out those complicated numbers.

If you have forgotten, the API was based on a tricky 0 to 1500 point scale. Big numbers were good; lower numbers were not as good. A school with a API of 1300 was deemed “better” than another school with a score of 800. A school whose number got bigger from one year to the next was showing growth and vice-versa.

Whew, I can see how this system completely mystified our parents.

Anyhow, let me demonstrate how easy it is to use statistics to cast blame on another group of professionals.

Most of us are relatively happy with our own physicians, yet we truly have no idea how terrible most doctors in Oklahoma are. How the abysmal performance of our state physicians has escaped scrutiny for this long is criminal.  Take a look at the statistics in the report from the United Health Foundation below, one that shows Oklahoma in 44th place nationally.


It is very clear from a cursory look at this chart that Oklahoma doctors are not doing their job. Numbers don’t lie. Our state ranks in the bottom ten in most health categories: obesity, diabetes, mental health, infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature deaths. What are our physicians doing about this? Apparently very little!

Are they just lazy and uncaring, knowing that their union bosses at the American Medical Association (AMA) will protect them? What are they doing to turn these numbers around? Or, as with the API, do they think that people just won’t understand these confusing percentages and statistics?

Maybe, it is time that Oklahoma starts grading hospitals and medical facilities with something that would be transparent and easy for us to understand?

I got it–how about an A-F letter grade? These medical A-F report cards would ensure doctor accountability. Don’t you agree that parents and communities should know what medical offices are excelling and which ones need additional help?

After this, we could then implement individual physician value added models (VAMs) based on the growth of their patients’ health indicators from one year to the next. Each doctor could establish patient health objectives (PHOs) to incorporate into their individual growth plans (IGPs). Once a year, these rankings would be published in the newspapers to provide enhanced accountability and transparency.

In reality, this is a program that the federal government should champion. We obviously need a common set of medical standards and assessments to be able to compare one state to another, as well as make us more competitive on international comparisons. It’s about leaving no patient behind (NPLB).

Our international education rankings are downright exemplary when compared to how our health system stacks up. Take a look at the Commonwealth Fund’s Annual International Health Rankings for 2012, where the United States came in dead last.


Here is how the study describes the deplorable state of medicine in America:

The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. under performs relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 edition. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity. In this edition, the United Kingdom ranks first, followed closely by Switzerland.

Why is there not more attention being paid to the terrible doctors in our state and nation? As a nation, this should be our Sputnik moment and a serious wake up call. We cannot allow our doctors to continue to pull in these ridiculous salaries and benefits with these type of results to show for it.

I suspect that some doctors will try to make excuses and blame their patients for being overweight, having high blood pressure, being physical inactive, catching diseases, or smoking cigarettes. They are just passing the buck to avoid accountability.

Physicians simply need to raise their standards and hold patients more accountable. Maybe students should not be allowed to earn a high school diploma if they have a body mass index (BMI) that is too high. Perhaps colleges could help by making sure all students are physically ready for the rigor of college by subjecting potential students to strenuous physical exams as part of their admissions process.

The bottom line is we must hold our doctors accountable. If our doctors and hospitals continue to under perform, maybe we need to bring in some charter offices to provide competition. These offices can cherry pick the  healthy patients and exclude anyone that is overweight or has poor health habits. The doctors with the more unhealthy patients will likely have lower scores but that should make them work harder, right? I am sure good doctors would love this plan as it would point out their mediocre colleagues and maybe direct more incentive pay back to them.

I ask you, how can we continue to support public medicine under these conditions?

44th is not OK!

A-F = Rank, Sort, and PunishMy Little Crony!
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