Whata Gupta Fuss

Mostly because he went off erroneously at Michael Moore in what I remember as two amateur policy analysts being unable to either get their facts straight or explain what was important, Sanjay Gupta’s floated appointment as surgeon general has got the left in a tizzy. And I agree that a neurosurgeon is not exactly who I’d go to for information about public health. But part of the amusement/confusion is that via a now contrite Merril Goozner, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta was confused with another Sanjay Gupta who was a big time recipient of drug company funding.

But does any of this this matter? I know that the rumor is that he’ll have input into health reform, but then again so does anyone who went to a Daschle house party. And if this position is so important, answer me this: who is the current Surgeon General and what notable thing has he or she done?

I knew you couldn’t do it sans Google….

If you really care, Val Jones has recently interviewed the last but one surgeon-general Richard Carmona. In your piece of trivia for today Carmona knows about Health 2.0, or at least is on the board of Healthline.

Anyway we may not have enough general surgeons according to their trade group, but why should the head of public health for the nation be a surgeon. Shouldn’t they be an epidemiologist? And why are they a general? Don’t we waste enough money on the military as it is?

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4 replies »

  1. This post reminds me of why I keep coming back and reading your stuff Matthew. Not only do you present opinions and info in a way that I can digest and enjoy, but your readers, my fellow visitors here, contribute excellently as well!

  2. Sorry ’bout that. Didn’t mean to step on your punch line. But, believe it or not, I’ve actually heard the same questions raised quite seriously by people whom I considered to be even more knowledgeable than either one of us.

  3. The term “Surgeon General” does not mean that the holder of the title must be a surgeon or that he/she is a general. The office was established in the 1870s, when the term “surgeon” was commonly used to refer to any physician. And “general” is not meant as a military reference, but as a title that means “supervising” – the same way it’s used in “Attorney General,” “Postmaster General,” or “Inspector General.”
    That inevitably begs the question: if he/she is not a general, why does he/she wear a uniform? That is because the Surgeon General is a member of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, which is one of the federal government’s seven uniformed services, along with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Secret Service. The uniform closely resembles that of the Navy, because the Commissioned Corps was originally begun as a government network of hospitals for merchant seamen. The Corps reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
    To top it off, there are no generals in the Navy ranking system, and the Surgeon General actually holds the rank of admiral in the Commissioned Corps.