I like medicine. Really.

Honestly, sometimes I get a little tired of having to constantly proclaim that the emperor has no clothes. And I suspect that because I do it so much, many people get the wrong impression of my opinion of mainstream medicine. I don't oppose mainstream medicine, in fact, I'm all for it. For many acute diseases, certainly for trauma care, and for survival through heart attack or stroke, mainstream medicine has no peer. Indeed, I have friends for whom surgery and medicine have permanently transformed their lives for the better.

I'm even friends with a few medical doctors, and I know them to be upstanding, intelligent people with a great deal of integrity, compassion and the desire to help their patients as best they can with the tools that they have.

The problem is that success in acute/critical care has allowed drugs and surgery to become the answers to health problems where they really are not that effective. Daily, research shows us that prevention and elimination of some of our leading killers, as well as the chronic diseases that afflict our society, lies in alterations of diet and lifestyle. And daily, that research is ignored in favor of more drugs, more surgery.

If I had my druthers -- and I'm old enough to recognize that I won't -- I would like to see a tiered healthcare system, where most of the primary care physicians were chiropractic doctors such as myself. Study after study has shown the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the techniques we use for a wide variety of disorders, whether it be physical medicine such as adjusting, nutrition and herbal therapy, or acupuncture.

For those patients who don't respond to my form of care, I could then refer them to my medical colleagues for their form of care. Which, although it is riskier, more expensive and may be more invasive, may also be exactly what the patient needs.

There is not a single individual who would not benefit from a health care system so constructed. It would be less expensive. It would be more effective. It would be safer, and medicine would no longer be the fourth leading cause of death in this country. And, slowly, the lifestyle diseases which plague us could be overcome.

Wouldn't that just be the ticket.