Psst! You wanna buy an otoscope?

What’s that? It’s a glorified flashlight, used to tell whether a young child (or anyone else) has ear infection. You can buy for $25 or over $100, depending on who is selling.

Rod Moser, a physicians assistant who blogs for the site WebMD, recalls the time he gave a public talk, saying that parents of small children should own such a device.

For his trouble, a local physician reprimanded him, saying that “was ILLEGAL for parents to possess an otoscope .”

Illegal? Not quite. But the attitude of the physician says something about the attitudes that prevail too often in health care today: It’s all up to the experts. Patients should be passive. Bureucrats and panels appointed by politicians should make the hard decisions–and above all, regulate, regulate, regulate.