Doctors Are Not “Only Out to Make Money”

I read that article and can't get a good word for that kind of doctors, except the term doctors (who) are only out to make money in the second line of the third paragraph (I add the who). I would like to have a good concise term for this kind of doctors.

There’s an old joke about the doctor whose son graduates from medical school and joins his practice. After a while the son tells his father, “You know old Mrs. Jones? You’ve been treating her rash for years and she never got better. I prescribed a new steroid cream and her rash is gone!” The father responds, “You idiot! That rash put you through medical school.”

  • Some just call it "business."
    – Kris
    Jun 14, 2015 at 13:14
  • The closest is "charlatan", but it's not exactly what you're implying.
    – Oldbag
    Jun 14, 2015 at 13:24
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    @Tim: I think the OP has been quite clear. He's not asking about a generic "in pursuit of money" motivation, but specifically the context where someone ensures for themselves an ongoing income by merely appearing to provide a product/service (which doesn't actually permanently satisfy the customer's requirement, so said customer keeps repeatedly paying for some kind of "temporary fix"). The kind of thing various types of con-men do, not just dodgy doctors. Jun 14, 2015 at 14:20
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    @FumbleFingers: Yes, but a requirement for this is that the "helper" be able to profit from "helping". (A bonus is being able to fake helping, or even to hurt, so that the patient does not get better and continues to need help.) It applies to any "helpers" or "repair" persons (e.g. car mechanic), but only if in such a profiting context. A doctor who is a salaried employee of a non-profit hospital, for example, is a priori less in this situation than a self-employed doctor who is remunerated by selling "help".
    – Drew
    Jun 14, 2015 at 14:40
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    The article also suggests: shills for Big Pharma; mercenary; greedy doctors; and one commenter calls these types of doctors quacks.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 14, 2015 at 14:54

5 Answers 5



a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, sometimes also politics or business.



If you LITERALLY mean the doctor (or perhaps, car mechanic) DELIBERATELY does not cure the patient, so that the patient will come back - so, exactly as in the joke stated.

The only thing I can really think of there is that the doctor would draw out the treatment, or perhaps someone like a car mechanic would string along a customer. In both cases they are milking it for all it is worth.

General terms like mercenary, bastard, charlatan, etc could mean many things. None of those specifically mean anything like "deliberately giving a lesser treatment than would be ideal, so as to extend the customer's payments over time".

The only phrases I can think of are the three mentioned above.

(It makes me think of Ralph Nader and planned obsolescence. Perhaps Nader had a word for this?! Like "under-servicing" perhaps.)

  • I like the word milking, but it is the action of the doctors, not the term describing them.
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2015 at 16:12
  • I would forget about trying to not only find a phrase but a specific grammar-type-phrase for such an obscure SWR
    – Fattie
    Jun 15, 2015 at 3:22

A sham doctor is called a "quack."

A very profit-driven quack is sometimes called a "snake-oil salesman," after men in the 1800s (roughly) who travelled around (often with a small circus, or "medicine show") peddling phony miracle cures allegedly made from ingredients like snake oil. That's probably the wrong connotation, though, since a snake-oil salesman didn't string along a small number of customers for a long time; he just sold as much snake oil as he could and then skedaddled before they caught on.

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    Quack is for who dishonestly claim that they have the knowledge which they don't. This is not what I'm really looking for since this kind of doctors actually graduate from med schools
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2015 at 16:10
  • Ah, okay. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful! Jun 14, 2015 at 19:33
  • +1 for 'Snake Oil Salesman'. I think that's getting closer to OP's meaning, but not quite there - best answer yet, though. Aug 24, 2015 at 10:08

It's not specific to doctors, but I believe an appropriate term for the situation you describe is "parasite" as per definition 2a of the term at thefreedictionary.com:

One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others without making any useful return.

Alternatives: vampire, blood-sucker and leech.

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    in a way, this is the only answer that really approaches the extremely-specific sense the OP has here.
    – Fattie
    Jun 15, 2015 at 3:23

My suggestion is "negligent" or "intentionally negligent":

failing to take proper or normal care of something or someone
failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances

"Negligent" alone have connotations of carelessnes rather than doing it on purpose to take advantage the patient. By adding "intentionally" (or "deliberately"), it is made clear that this is not just carelessness.

If you want in a shape where it can be used as a noun, I would suggest: "an intentionally negligent doctor" - but that is three words, not one.

  • I want a noun. How about negligenter?
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2015 at 16:15
  • AFAIK, "negligenter" is not an English word :-( . Jun 15, 2015 at 0:59

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