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Thursday, November 19, 2009


by JC Leahy
Sigma Theta Tau's "100 Most Extraordinary Nurses Award"

I am writing these details while they are fresh in my mind. I just arrived home from a very unusual doctor visit. I am a registered nurse. I have seen many doctors interview many patients and I have never witnessed anything as bizarre as today's visit with Dr. Korbine. You may actually find it hard to believe:

My insurance company, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, wanted me to have an evaluation of a neck injury. They steered me to Dr. Kobrine. The waiting room was nearly empty: me and one other patient attended by 3 staff members. I am, by nature, a friendly guy. At work I smile and say hello to people I pass in the hallway, whether it's Bert the cleaning guy or the hospital chief of surgery, or patients. So, when Dr. Kobrine entered the exam room this morning, I gave him a bright "good morning" and a broad smile.

"Good Morning!" I said.

Dr. Korbine closed the door behind himself, sat down silently, a dour facial expression, avoiding eye contact. Silently, he opened my file and began to read.

It's unfortunate how so many people at so many levels in this world feel entitled to be rude.  I felt awkward that he hadn't responded to my greeting. I tried to recover. "How are you this morning?" I smiled. No response. Only silence.

After reading for a while silently, he asked, "You work for the Department of Veterans Affairs?"

"Yes, I do!!" I responded enthusiastically. " I take care of veterans at the VA Medical Center on Irving Street." I smiled again and held out my Veterans Affairs professional business card.

Dr. Kobrine glanced coolly at my hand but did not take the card from it. "I don't need your business card.".

"Oh....okay....." This WAS awkward!! I placed my card back in my pocket. Dr. Kobrine continued to silently flip through my file.

"Dr. Kobrine," I said politely. "I must say, I find you dogged silence and refusal to interact to be a bit rude. Are you having a bad morning or do you treat all of your patients this way?"

He looked up from his reading, glaring. He looked like he had just been kicked in the stomach. There was anger in his eyes. "WHAT did you just say???!!!"

"I believe you heard me, Dr. Kobrine."

"Let me tell you something!!! I'm not here to be your buddy!!!! I don't need your friendship!!! I don't need your business card!!! I'm here to evaluate your neck!!!! Frankly, I find YOU rude for saying what you just said!!!"

"Please don't misunderstand me, Doctor!! I'm trying to HELP!!! Your waiting room is not exactly overflowing.  Your poor professional demeanor CAN'T be good for your practice! ! And besides, life is too short to be acting like that, don't you agree?"

"Well I don't need your help! I do NOT need your help!!"

"Okay, Doctor. I stand admonished. Proceed with your evaluation."

"I think YOU are the rude one!!!"

"Very well, Doctor. Proceed."

He gave me a little physical exam. Zero small talk. Very tense. When he was finished, he said simply, "That's all."

He turned and left the exam room leaving me sitting there in my undershirt with no good-bye or instructions to go to the front desk or anything at all.

How needlessly unpleasant was Dr. Kobrine!!!!  In short, the good doctor Kobrine exhibited a personality somewhere between Colonel Klink and a dead fish dressed up like Glenn Beck's photo on his new book Arguing With Idiots. I'm not saying Dr. Kobrine is incompetent -- that may or may not be, but it's not my point-- I'm just saying that a patient would have to be a masochist to tolerate his extremely unprofessional bedside manner!!! It takes more than technical skills to be a physician, and Dr. Kobrine simply does not measure up.

Here are his contact data, as listed on his business card:

Arthur I. Kobrine, MD, Ph.D.
Diplomate (sic) American Board of Neurological Surgery
2440 M Street, NW, Suite 315
Washington, DC 20037
Tel. 202-293-7136


JC Leahy said...

To the NIH employee who recently posted a comment about his surgical experience with Dr. Kobrine: Your story is incredible. In fairness to Dr. Kobrine, I cannot allow you to post your comment anonymously. If you will sign your name to the post and email me also, I will allow you to post your comment.

Kenneth Pruden said...

Is this the same neurosurgeon that worked on Ronald Regan ? If so in all fairness his surgical skills are no doubt good but surgery is a last resort and only done when the indices for surgery are present. His skills as I say are good but I have known better surgeons.

Peggy Evanich said...

Peggy L. Evanich said....
I must disagree with these comments on Dr. Kobrine. I had nothing but totally positive experiences with him from my first appointment, through surgery, follow up care, and would recommend him to anyone. His skills are known to be first rate and so they are in my opinion. I have heard people say that he can be brusque, but I found him not so. The day after surgery my entire suite of pain, which was quite severe, was gone. Total recovery took several months as two vertebrae were fused and required time to do so. To correct something, I do believe he was the surgeon who tended to Jim Brady who was shot along with President Reagan by John Hinkley.

I would return to him at anytime if I required future neurosurgery.

Charlie Fink said...

Dr. Kobrine saved my life. I was nearly paralyzed from spondelosis and he saved me. He was recommended by a physician friend who Dr. Kobrine helped with a similar condition. He is a brilliant surgeon.

Salvador Crespo said...

Dr Kobrin also save my life. If it was not becouse his great knowledge and skill , I can tell you that I would be quadriplegic today. Dr Kobrin is not just a good neurosurgeon ,he is the best in usa if not in the world . I am writing this comment becouse I feel that the person who wrote the bad comment about him ,is totally wrong an unfair . Dr kobrin has a huge heart a very special human being.

My name is Salvador Crespo.