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January 31, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: The rise and fall of the body-scanning clinics


Gina Kolata, one of the finest science writers on the planet, wrote a front-page story for the January 23 New York Times on the sudden emergence of the consumer-driven body-scanning industry in 2001, and the just-as-sudden implosion of the business.

After Oprah featured Dr. Harvey Eisenberg, the owner of one of these scanning centers, on her show in 2000, the industry exploded, with chains of scanning facilities going up in shopping centers seemingly overnight.

Radiologists loved them because patients paid cash for the procedures, which were not covered by insurance since they hadn't been prescribed or ordered by physicians.

Then the whole thing collapsed, driven largely by competition that lowered prices to the point that profit became impossible, along with a furious salvo of criticism from professional societies warning that for every positive finding that turned out to be something important, many more led to expensive, sometimes dangerous and fatal work-ups for things that proved to be ultimately benign or nonexistent.

But that's not why I decided to bring this subject to your attention.

No, it was a paragraph buried deep in the article that made me sit up and take notice.

    Dr. Carl Rosenkrantz, a radiologist in Boca Raton, Fla., said the business had another appeal – it promised radiologists a good living without being on call at a hospital and even without necessarily being present at the scanning center.

    "The goal in life seems to be to try to figure out some way where you don't have to go to the hospital, where you don't have to take calls," Dr. Rosenkrantz said.

    "Radiologists saw this as a cash business and a way out."

Many years ago, when I was still working at the University of Virginia, I happened to be sitting in the "Ready Room" reading the Washington Post.

It was the Style section, and it was an interview with Kinky Friedman,


founder and front man for Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, a country-rock group.

He'd just had his first novel published, a comedy-mystery about a detective who happened to also be a Jewish cowboy.

Anyhow, he was cutting up and goofing around with the Post reporter, back and forth, when he uttered words that burned themselves forever into my brain, or wherever things go that you remember forever.

She asked him why, since he already had a successful recording and concert career, he'd decided to write a book.


He said, "I'm in search of a lifestyle which does not require my presence."

Right there, he crystallized exactly what I'd been trying to focus on and achieve my whole life.

Not having to be somewhere, that's the ultimate freedom.

Not having to answer your door or the phone, hey, that's lagniappe.

And lo and behold, carrying that thought like a precious jewel for many years, I somehow emerged on the other side of the looking glass.

Where my presence was no longer required.

And here I am, there.

Because bookofjoe adepts don't care where I am: only that it appears.


I'm lovin' it.

January 31, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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I love Kinky Friedman's books. Somehow I believe every word as actually having been a part of his life's experiences.

You go Joe!

Posted by: Mattp9 | Jan 31, 2005 8:03:51 PM

Good post, combining two eccentrics; I have read both bookofjoe and Kinky Firedman separately, should have known they were related.

Posted by: JT | Jan 31, 2005 4:35:24 PM

Kinky announces his run for Governor of Texas later this week. As they say, why the hell not?

Posted by: acudoc | Jan 31, 2005 11:44:32 AM

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