2013 Medal of Irony Award Roundup

Irony the opposite of wrinklyIt’s time for the end-of-year Medal of Irony Award roundup for 2013.

Situational irony involves an incongruity between what’s expected or intended and what actually occurs. I think we have 4 great examples:

Me, for instance. I’m all for lifelong learning but opposed to Maintenance of Certification (MOC) as it is currently configured. The incongruity here? Well, one of the other many layers of regulation is the Joint Commission’s Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation (OPPE). Under my hospital’s metrics, I’m essentially invisible to the OPPE and so it would be difficult to renew my hospital privileges–unless we count MOC. Then I’m probably fine. That’s why I’m a winner of a 2013 Medal of Irony Award!Dr. Jim Amos, Medal of Irony

How about John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House? Well, he’s been a staunch opponent of Obamacare but enrolled recently on Healthcare.gov. That’s certainly ironic, especially since his cigar-smoking was apparently counted as a pre-existing medical condition–for which he could not be disqualified under Obamacare law. He wins a Medal of Irony Award without a doubt!John Boehner Medal of Irony

Peter Higgs is a winner of a Medal of Irony Award because he would have been fired from his department for his lack of productivity had he not published a paper on finding how a subatomic particle acquires mass. Yet he won the Nobel Prize for Science recently. Congratulations Dr. Higgs–you’re the man of the ironic hour!Peter Higgs Medal of Irony

Finally, Dr. Lynn Webster, MD, the President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and considered one of the country’s leading experts on pain management and who directed a pain medicine clinic for 10 years–who is the subject of malpractice lawsuits and whose clinic is under an ongoing DEA investigation because of the deaths of two patients who overdosed on opioids prescribed at the clinic for their chronic pain. Maybe there should be a Federal law similar to the New York state I-STOP ((Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing) regulations in effect since August 2013. Prescribers now have to check the state database (essentially a prescription monitoring program, I think) before prescribing controlled substances, including opioids.dr-lynn-webster medal of irony

And everyone who supports lifelong learning and opposes MOC and its second cousin, Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) should give themselves a hand for winning the Medal of Irony Award as well. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) ran a survey of public comments on their proposed new standards for MOC. Those of us who oppose MOC registered our dissent–to the only organization which has the authority to reform or rescind it and which has utterly no motivation to do either.

Merry Christmas to all the ironically ensnared, and to all an ironic New Year!

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