When Harinath Sheela was busiest at his gastroenterology clinic, it seemed he could bend the limits of time.
Twelve colonoscopies and four other procedures was a typical day for him, according to Florida records for 2012. If the American Medical Association’s assumptions about procedure times are correct, that much work would take about 26 hours. Sheela’s typical day was nine or 10.
“I have experience,” the Yale-trained, Orlando-based doctor said. “I’m not that slow; I’m not fast. I’m thorough.”
This seemingly miraculous proficiency, which yields good pay for doctors who perform colonoscopies, reveals one of the fundamental flaws in the pricing of U.S. health care, a Washington Post investigation has found.
Unknown to most, a single committee of the AMA, the chief lobbying group for physicians, meets confidentially every year to come up with values for most of the services a doctor performs.