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Much of the work doctors do is behind the scenes

To the editor: The letter about the bill Medicare received for the writer's recent hospital stay highlights the lack of understanding by the public and our government about what doctors do at the hospital. The writer complained he was charged for 40 minutes of inpatient care by a physician when the doctor saw him for only five minutes. ("Medicare at 50: Contain costs to keep the program going," Readers React, Aug. 2)

What he did not realize was that his doctor might already have spent more than 15 minutes collecting and reviewing the lab results plus notes from the nurses and consultants before that five-minute encounter, and yet another 15 plus minutes struggling with the increasingly complicated electronic health record to post his orders and entries. On top of that, there would be travel time and expenses involved.

And for all the expertise and time spent, he was paid a measly $105 by Medicare. Try to offer your plumber double that amount, especially on a weekend, and see what kind of response you get.

John T. Chiu, MD, Newport Beach

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