In a recent article titled, “What if the Doctor is Wrong?” The Wall Street Journal asserts what you and I already know, that “primary care doctors can misdiagnose common symptoms.” In a study 202 patients most commonly complained about abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath and rash. Incorrect diagnoses included: benign viral infection 17%; musculoskeletal pain 10%; asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 6%; benign skin lesion 4%; and pneumonia 4%. Final correct diagnoses for patients misdiagnosed initially included: cancer 16%; pulmonary embolism 6%; coronary artery disease 5%; aneurysm 8%; appendicitis 6%.
Every profession consists of a mix of hardworking, conscientious, especially caring and skilled people and those who are less so.
I don’t point this out to bash doctors or excuse any teacher that is unprepared, uncaring, and unmotivated. I point it out to ask why politicians, business leaders, state legislators, and other policy makers are so determined to identify and then fire the worst teachers, but no similar efforts are made to rid medicine, dentistry, the law, or other professions of perennial underachievers? Think doctors would find it motivating if we reported their “initial correct diagnosis” percentages in local newspapers and then used those percentages to divide them into different categories of relative effectiveness?
Do we single out teachers for public scoring and scorn because they make a fraction of most doctors, dentists, and lawyers and in our society money, status, and power are intimately interconnected? Do policy makers feel like that they can push them around because of their modest compensation?