The West Palm Beach "Action." Across the street in a small converted house, I found the offices of the People's Medical Society and spoke with its executive director, Charlie Inlander, a native of Chicago. He told me about the society's recent "action" in West Palm Beach, Florida.
"It was the first public meeting of PMS members from a local area " he explained. "Shortly before the meeting we asked all the doctors in the county to sign our Code of Practice.
"The resulting controversy was publicized by a well-planned media blitz which included buying eight hours of air time and sponsoring our own call-in radio talk show. We encouraged people to call up and complain about local medical practices, doctors, and hospitals, and I'll tell you, we did a land-office business. We also got four feature articles in the Palm Beach Post and extensive media coverage of the two PMS meetings."
CODE OF PRACTICE
As a PMS Code of Practice practitioner, I will assist you in finding information resources, support groups and health care providers to help you maintain and improve your health. When you seek care for specific
problems, I will abide by the following Code of Practice:
1. I will post or provide a printed schedule of my fees for office visits, procedures, testing and surgery, and provide itemized bills.
2. I will provide certain hours each week when I will be available for non-emergency telephone consultations.
3. I will schedule appointments to allow the necessary time to see you with minimal waiting. I will promptly return test results to you and phone calls.
4. I will allow and encourage you to bring a friend or relative into the examining room with you.
5. I will facilitate your getting your medical and hospital records, and will provide you with copies of your test results.
- Choice in Diagnosis and Treatment
6. I will let you know your prognosis, including whether your condition is terminal or will cause disability or pain, and will explain why I believe further diagnostic activity or treatment is necessary.
7. I will discuss diagnostic, treatment and medication options for your particular problem with you (including the option of no treatment) and describe in understandable terms the risk of each alternative, the chances of success, the possibility of pain, the effect on your functioning, the number of visits each would entail, and the cost of each alternative.
8. I will describe my qualifications to perform the proposed diagnostic measures or treatments.
9. I will let you know of organizations, support groups, and medical and lay publications that can assist you in understanding, monitoring and treating your problem.
10. I will not proceed until you are satisfied that you understand the benefits and risks of each alternative and I have your agreement on a particular course of action.
"A Roomful of White-Haired People Jumping Up and Down..." PMS Board member Patty Phelan attended the meeting: "I've never seen a group of older people more activated and worked up. They were very jazzed that they were going to have a chance to rate their local doctors. We had a whole room full of white-haired people jumping up and down with excitement.
"Bob Rodale is a real hero to these people. They revere him. If that first meeting was any indication, Bob has a very large constituency out there. Some of those who attended have subscribed to Prevention for 20 or 30 years."