Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A recent report filed with the Venice, California Police department:

The suspect is male, about sixty years old, has a fairly full head of salt-pepper hair for a man his age, and is average height and weight. His clothes look fresh off a Target rack, and if I had to guess what kind of car he drives I’d say a Honda Civic, white. He gave no hint of potential violent behavior when he entered my clinic on Lincoln Boulevard at about one o’clock this afternoon.

Veronica, my very capable physician’s assistant, took his vitals (which were good for a man his age) and recorded his complaint of chronic lower back pain with occasional excruciating pangs extending down his inner thighs. She then escorted him to my examination room. Veronica, who incidentally has worked for me since I began my practice in 1972 (I started out as a general practitioner) instructed the man to undress, and gave him a gown to wear until I was able to examine him (the Spring break can fill my clinic with UCLA students, and I was running a little behind schedule).

As soon as I entered the examination room the suspect became aggressive, and informed me he wished to see “the real doctor.” He became even angrier when I told him I was the real doctor. He then produced from his pile of clothing the free tabloid publication found anywhere on Abbot Kinney Boulevard advertising my clinic, and asked, “So who’s this?”

By now the Venice police are used to the fact that the medical marijuana clinics in our city are each doing its best to manage chronic pain syndrome, an anguish that afflicts, apparently, a large portion of our citizenry. We do our utmost to spread the word that our walk-in clinics provide ‘real’ doctors (not mere physician’s assistants who cannot prescribe medication), generally for a fee averaging $40.00, and that if a patient is diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome he can leave the clinic not only with a prescription, but also the first dose, generally for an additional fee of about $30.00.

So that our message cannot easily be overlooked, we generally hire, for a fee of about $500.00, an attractive UCLA coed to don a white coat and stethoscope, sometimes a pair of glasses, carefully selected I assure you, and have her photo inserted over the words “Real Doctor Will See You, Not A Physician’s Assistant.”

I looked at the tabloid’s photograph, and sure enough there was Stephanie, a theater major as I recall — yes, I see you have her picture there on the wall — no, I did not realize she offered her image to other publications. Our photographer called it d├ęcolletage; you may call it cleavage if you insist, although I, obviously, prefer a professional’s terminology. Remember, the purpose is to make people who needlessly suffer from chronic pain syndrome to know of our services.

The suspect, however, became adamant that “the real doctor” examine him; his particular concern was with the pain shooting down his inner thighs. I explained, perhaps with unnecessary finesse, that ‘Doctor Stephanie’ was on vacation, and that I was perfectly capable of diagnosing his problem and addressing it. The suspect made noise about his “junk.” I assured him I didn’t have to go anywhere near his “junk,” in fact, I explained even ‘Doctor Stephanie’ wouldn’t have needed to, either.

The suspect then shouted loudly about our “operation,” and said that he would take his business to another clinic where they had “real doctors” and not “old quacks” like me. His aggressive behavior became very alarming, especially to some of the patients in the middle of treatment, one of whom emerged from the "quiet room" and tried to calm him with quotes from Vivekananda. Several male patients in my waiting room got up and left with him after he informed them that ‘the babe doctor’ was on vacation. He left without paying the $40.00 examination fee, which I am entitled to for not only Veronica’s taking his vitals, but also the excessive time I had spent with him; my examinations usually last as long as it takes to scribble a prescription.

You will find the suspect, I’m sure, somewhere on Abbot Kinney Boulevard; no doubt he is clutching a copy of the informative brochure financed by me and my fellow practitioners, and probably is harassing a colleague as we speak. I will conclude with the statement — this is no criticism of the Venice Police Department — that the State of California has much work to do to protect the safety and interests of the professionals it has enlisted to battle the scourge of chronic pain syndrome.

[signed] Dr. Malcomb Witherspoon