Hippocratic Oath 'Under Review' By HMO Board

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Vol 33 Issue 13

Woman Injured In Hostile Makeover

NEW YORK—Area resident Janice Milner is in stable condition following a hostile makeover Monday. According to witnesses, Milner was looking at mascara at the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics counter at Macy's when several salespeople violently descended upon her, brutally applying thick coats of rouge and eye shadow until she fell unconscious. "It was horrible," witness Stacie Hull said. "They had her in autumn colors, and she was obviously a winter."

Congress Raises Killing Age To 19

WASHINGTON, DC—Making good on a promise to curb juvenile crime, Congress passed legislation Monday making it illegal for anyone under 19 to commit murder. "If you kill someone, your parents will be notified, and you may even spend time in jail," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS). Previously, murderers as young as 14, depending on state of residence, were considered to be acting within the law. President Clinton approved the bill, though he had recently threatened to veto it if youths between 16 and 19 were not granted certain killing privileges with parental consent.

Madcap Romp Escalates Into Zany Hijinks

WALLINGBROOK, VT—A madcap romp involving a string of zany shenanigans escalated into full-blown hijinks Saturday at Croydon Preparatory Academy, an exclusive private school in Wallingbrook. "These nutty kids are driving the board of directors absolutely bonkers with their wild antics," said school headmaster Charles Croydon III. "I don't know which is screwier, the loonball goof-ups or the cornball japery." Paramount Pictures has paid $3.4 million for movie rights to the story of the students' over-the-top hijinks, which the studio plans to turn into an outrageous send-up, expected in theaters in late 1999.

Psychic Phone Service Devastates Competition By Only Hiring The Best Psychics

LOS ANGELES—Psychic phone services across the nation are declaring bankruptcy as a result of the Caring Psychic Souls Service's recent announcement that it hires only the best master psychics. "Only the Caring Psychic Souls Service can offer you readings from the very best psychics in the world today," said Dana Plato, celebrity spokesperson for the service. "We are ruined," said Psychic Encounters spokesperson Nichelle Nichols. "I suppose, in retrospect, we devoted too much energy to infomercials and not enough to the development of a rigorous screening process by which we would guarantee ourselves the absolute top psychics. Now we are paying for it."

New, Improved Olean 30 Percent Less Likely To Make You Shit In Your Pants

CINCINNATI—Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of the breakthrough fat-free cooking oil Olean, unveiled a new, improved version of the product Monday, one that is reportedly 30 percent less likely to cause explosive pants-shitting. "Good news, calorie counters—Olean just got even better," Procter & Gamble spokesman Phillip Hearn said. "Now, even fewer people who eat Lay's-brand Wow! potato chips will experience violent, bowel-shattering defecation and uncontrollable spewing of high-pressure jets of frothy, liquid feces." Hearn said Olean users can still expect to vomit rivers of blood at ten-minute intervals for six months following use.

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Girl, if there is any doubt in your mind as to what time it is, let me break it down for you: It is time for you to get Smooved.

Why Can't I Have A Mistress Too?

I have often been asked if I regret anything about my life. The answer is no! If I were to do it over again, I'd do it all the same! After all, it was I who transformed The Onion from an obscure frontier news-paper with a reader-ship composed mainly of Mennonites to a bustling daily with a readership of millions. And I'll be damned if I ever apologize for taking the life of Brickton Atlas-Trumpet editor P. Oliver Gummidge!

My Goal Is To Someday Be A Realtor

My goal is to someday become a Realtor, and, come heck or high water, I'm going to do it! I've always wanted a career, and, now that the kids are finally old enough not to need me around the house all the time, I'm determined to go for it. As my best girlfriend Patricia who sells Amway told me, there's no better time than the present!
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Hippocratic Oath 'Under Review' By HMO Board

INDIANAPOLIS—In a development bioethicists and health-care industry professionals are watching closely, the board of directors of Indiana HMO PhysCare-Plus, one of the largest and most powerful HMOs in the nation, announced Monday that the Hippocratic Oath is currently "under review."

ONION Med Watch

According to board members, the 2,400-year-old oath, attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates and generally acknowledged as the cornerstone of medical ethics, is "outmoded and no longer economically viable in today's complex, rapidly changing health-care environment."

"Here at PhysCare-Plus, our goal has always been the same: to provide customers with dependable, first-rate health care. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so when we are hampered by an ancient moral code penned by a contemporary of the historian Herodotus somewhere between 470 and 360 B.C.," said Dr. Cedric Samms, head of the PhysCare-Plus board. "While the oath is admirable for its idealism, it simply does not take into account the many complexities and economic realities of medicine in the modern age."

Added Samms: "The personal touch.... That's the PhysCare-Plus difference."

According to Samms, the Hippocratic Oath is too narrow and inflexible, placing too many restraints on health-care professionals and requiring doctors to provide additional services which undercut their profits and hinder their ability to remain competitive. Because of the medical profession's strict adherence to antiquated moral principles and dogma, Samms argued, both doctors and HMOs are adversely affected.

"Take, for example, the portion of the oath which states, 'I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients,' Samms said. "For years, doctors have complained that the notion of practicing medicine with the patient's health as the number-one priority is not only outdated, but unfair. By putting the patient's welfare before cost considerations, doctors place themselves at risk of antagonizing HMOs, which pay for the bulk of medical bills under the current system. Every time a precautionary electrocardiogram is done on someone suffering from chest pain, it is the HMOs that truly suffer."

Also under intense scrutiny is the line, "With purity and holiness I will practice my art."

"Medicine has changed a great deal over the last 2,400 years, and 'purity' and 'holiness' are strong words that may no longer be viable given current cost outlays," PhysCare-Plus vice-president of operations Dr. Kyle Loveland said. "And, as far as the use of the word 'art' goes, perhaps in ancient Greece physicians could consider themselves artists, but today's medical industry is a multibillion-dollar business." PhysCare-Plus officials have proposed changing "purity and holiness" to "acumen and savvy," and to change the term "art" to "career."

Of all the disputed elements of the oath, however, the passage drawing the most fire is the one that reads: "Whatever in connection with my professional service... I see or hear in the life of men... I will not divulge, reckoning that all should be kept secret."

"There is no way an HMO can properly function bound by such a rule," said PhysCare-Plus member-accounts departmental supervisor Toby Francis. "HMOs must be free to disclose patients' medical, personal, and financial information to insurers. How else can we determine what treatments a patient is or isn't eligible to receive? If someone needs a new lung and they don't have the necessary funds to pay for it, how are we supposed to know not to perform the surgery? I can't tell you how many cost overruns have been rung up as a result of doctors providing life-saving operations in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath, only to find out afterwards that the patients weren't covered. In a case like that, the surgery turns out to be for nothing. I get burned up just thinking about it."

If approved by the PhysCare-Plus board, the revised Hippocratic Oath is expected to have a major effect on the health-care industry, with other HMOs across the U.S. likely to follow suit. But regardless of whether or not the revised Hippocratic Oath—tentatively titled the "PhysCare-Plus Family Econo-Plan Quality Pledge"—is passed by the board, one thing is certain: Health-care providers' attitudes are shifting.

"As the millennium approaches, the medical industry must look toward the future, not the past," Samms said. "After all, as Hippocrates himself said, vita brevis. Life is short."

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