nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009


I still have my TV turned off, for all practical purposes (I watch 24, and sometimes watch a DVD…but no news, talk shows, sitcoms, or reality).  So, I can only report a rumor.


The incoming administration is reportedly considering Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the job of Surgeon General of the United States.  This can’t be true…a CNN reporter?  I find it credible that Dr. Gupta may be a competent surgeon, and an interesting media personality, but I haven’t heard of any expertise in the field of public health or preventive medicine.  But, more importantly, the office is a federal bureaucracy:  I would hope that the administration’s nominee would have some experience running a healthcare organization, with a foundational knowledge of healthcare management and resourcing.  Maybe just having supervised something more than an OR nurse would be a start.


I first saw Dr. Gupta on TV during the 2003 war:  he was waxing eloquent about the far-forward surgical teams that the Marines were using.   Having been involved in the development of those teams two years before for the Air Force, I wondered at the time where had he been the last few years?


More recently, I read that, in reporting on a bubonic plague outbreak he referred to the cause of plague as being due to “rat bites.”  Maybe we need a public health official who knows more about diseases and their causes (fleas, in this case).


I did an internet search, and found that he was listed by People magazine as one of the “sexiest men alive.”  Am I missing something here about the job of Surgeon General?  Maybe he plans to write a surgeon general reality show, where contestants compete to investigate disease outbreaks around the world.  While people are dying, the contest judges would be delivering very dramatic pauses, followed by “Doctor, you’re out.”


The Office of the Surgeon General has become one of lessening importance due to the political nature of recent appointees.  Remember Bill Clinton’s appointee, Joycelyn Elders?  She made so many faux pas, that she was fired…after recommending that masturbation be taught in the schools.  As the author Steven Milloy said, “over the last 96 years, the Surgeon General has gone from working on genuine public health problems (infectious disease, clean water and sanitation) to advocating golf, Mickey Mouse-less food and beverage containers and video exercise games as public health measures.”


So maybe it’s appropriate that a media celebrity (his only qualification for the job) become the SG.  It continues the downward spiral in responsibility and competence.  Maybe we could get a physician felon for the next Surgeon General… to complete the process.


This is certainly not the Change I was looking for.


Doc D


Opinions are entirely my own.

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