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debGuest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Vice Chair, Neurosurgery
Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Cleveland, OH

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

tapeImagine being forced to strap a 15-pound belt around your waist and carrying it around at work all day, every day, just because of some ridiculous regulation created by someone working miles away with little knowledge about what your job actually entails. At first, most of us would scream, shout and protest or just accept — figuring sanity likely to prevail over time. As the months pass, the anger might fade, and the weight feels less burdensome, but still, at the end of the day, there would be a tremendous relief, when this needless encumbrance could be shed. Then one day, another hatchet falls — now a new administrator requires you to wear a coat during working hours that covers your arms, neck, ears and head. The material is scratchy, and in most weather, it makes you sweat continuously, sometimes making it hard to concentrate. Again you rebel, but the authorities prevail, you shrug and carry on as best you can. Perhaps this sounds like a strange version of an Ayn Rand novel, but in fact, it is the 20th-century tale of American health care.

The weights we carry and coats we wear are the red tape regulations imposed upon us that hinder our capacity to provide the right care, to the right patient at the right time while still maintaining a degree of job satisfaction. Being a neurosurgeon is a noble and rewarding profession, providing opportunities most days to have a meaningful impact on the lives of our patients and their loved ones. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, the health care system has been strangled with increasing amounts of regulatory red tape. True, the intent of most of these has been to try and improve quality or reduce costs. Unfortunately, because these efforts have largely transpired without meaningful physician input, the goals were not achieved, and the burden remained.

Throughout the month, Neurosurgery Blog has explored the challenge of Physician Regulatory Relief: Breaking the Red Tape to Improve Patient Care (#RegRelief). Through the following pieces, we have examined the challenges of these regulations and tried to provide constructive input as well as alternative approaches:

Organized neurosurgery remains committed to being part of an open, honest, ongoing dialogue about evolving a health care system best for the country. Perhaps as 2018 unfolds, the New Year will bring a new perspective to how to accomplish this important goal best.

Editor’s Note: We encourage everyone to join the conversation online by using the hashtag #RegRelief.

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