Friday, November 4, 2011

The Advertiser

In the 1960's, advertising for patients in a medical practice was forbidden by the College of Physicians and Surgeons! They were tough regulators! Making claims of any sort were also subject to sanctions by the College! A new specialist in town was to simply hang a modest shingle and a tiny and dignified announcement of arrival in the paper (three times I think), and then wait until their colleagues saw fit to refer a surgical case. The growth of the surgical practice occurred ostensibly through practicing the three A's, Available,Affable and Able. That does not include Advertising! Remember of course that this was before Medicare and paying patients were jealously guarded by their General Practitioners. When the pianist and I moved to Lotus City with our little family in 1965 to start a surgical practice, I took a job at the Veterans Hospital to keep the wolf from the door while the slow process of developing a consulting practice began. A tough old veteran had been having serious trouble with an old gunshot wound to the lower leg, incurred during the Second World War. He needed a below knee amputation and the Veteran's Hospital Prosthetics Department was keen to try a new prosthetic technique with the immediate application of the artificial limb in the operating room. After the team surgery, I was astounded to read a front page article in the Lotus City Paper the following day relating an interview with my tough old patient who was walking around in the veteran's canteen, fully weight bearing on the limb, extolling my surgical virtues! He was so elated he had phoned the paper! It wasn't very long before I was called to the mat by the College of Physicians and Surgeons for unfairly advertising! Several of my surgical confreres had complained and the Registrar warned me that I was on thin ice. I pled innocence! However---it was a good start!

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