A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 12, 2013
“When you go to Midas, you get a muffler” (go to a specialist for that specialty)

Midas (The Muffler Installation Dealers’ Associated Service) is an automotive service center that specializes in mufflers (and was originally called “Midas Muffler"), but now also fixes brakes and does other auto services. A Midas ad from July 1971 is:

“If you’ve got a toothache
you go to the dentist.
If need a new muffler
you go to Midas.”


“When you go to Midas, you get a muffler” became a popular saying among health care professionals. If you have a car problem and go to Midas, for example, you’ll probably be told that you need a new muffler. If you have health problems and you go to a surgeon, you’ll probably be told that you need surgery. Specialists prescribe according to their specialty, even though this may not be the solution to the customer’s problem.

“And according to MacKay, the resident’s mentor observed, ‘You go to Midas, you get a muffler’” was cited in print in 1987. The saying is still popular with medical professionals, even though Midas expanded its business beyond mufflers and the “If you’ve got a toothache you go to the dentist” ads are no longer run.

A similar saying about specialists is “Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.”


Google News Archive
26 July 1971, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, pg. 2-C, col. 3:
If you’ve got a toothache
you go to the dentist.
If need a new muffler
you go to Midas.


2 September 1987, Morning Call (Allentown, PA), “Healthy image part of docs’’ job, too” by Ann Wlazelek and Jeffrey G. Fleishman, pg. A6:
And according to MacKay, the resident’s mentor observed, “You go to Midas, you get a muffler.”

Google Books
The Body in Medical Thought and Practice
By D. Leder
Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers
1992
Pg. 44:
Ask a cardiologic question, get a cardiologic answer. Or, as the residents at my institution put it somewhat cynically, “You go to Midas you get a muffler”. While this anecdote may seem incredible—surely the cardiologist would not make someone sick—it si a frequent and even archetypal event.

Google Groups: misc.education.medical
Newsgroups: misc.education.medical
From: (Marshall Craig)
Date: 1995/04/16
Subject: Re: Family Practice as acareer choice

>>As to the comments of the glories of being a specialist for an extra year or two of work, please get in contact with many residents finishing up in radiology, anesthesiology, dermatology, cardiology this past year and ask them how easy it was to find that 250K payoff you were talking about.  The country is starting to realize what many of us already knew.  Family practitioners and internists and pediatricians can care for most (not all) medical problems less expensively with less invasive care than our specialist colleagues.  “If you go to Midas, you get a muffler”.  <<

Not quite true.
Family practitioners, generalists, etc. do not have the training or abilities to replace radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists- these fields require specialty training to which generalists are not even exposed.

Google Books
100 Questions & Answers About Thyroid Disorders
By Warner M. Burch
Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers
2009
Pg. 87:
If you see a surgeon first, you need to remember the axiom, “If you go to Midas, you are going to get a muffler.” That is their training and background and what they know and do best.

Google Books
Living Well Emotionally:
Break Through to a Life of Happiness

By Montel Williams with William Doyle
New York, NY: New American Library
2009
Pg. 119:
There are physicians who would much rather write a prescription for a pill than for exercise, because that’s what they do: you go to Midas, you get a muffler; you see a doctor, you get a prescription.

Wikipedia: Talk:Mohs surgery
Comparison to other modalities of treatment
It often occurs in medicine as in real life, “When you go to Midas, you get a muffler”.
--Becalmed (talk) 08:55, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

GlassHospital
Tina
May 18, 2010 at 11:49 am
I read this in a medical book a long time ago: You go to Midas, you get a muffler. If you’re having trouble with your knee, for example, but you really can’t or don’t want to have it surgically repaired right now, don’t go to an orthopod unless you tell him up front that you can’t have surgery now.

The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine
Published: April 6, 2011
Guarding Your Heart
Brian T. Maurer
Apropos modern medical practice, there’s an old saying attributed to the automotive repair business:  “Go to Midas, get a muffler.” Midas is in the business of selling mufflers, of course.  If you consult their mechanics about an odd noise in the exhaust system, most likely they’ll replace your muffler and tailpipe.  This might not fix the problem, but payment has exchanged hands in the transaction.

Historically, the sick have sought out the services of the physician.  And should they arrive on the good doctor’s doorstep, whether ill or not, they will most likely be treated.  Automotive repair is not the only business in town.

Twitter
The Morning News
‏@TMNheadlines
“When you go to Midas you get a muffler.” The argument against the annual physical. http://tmne.ws/1jb1PJ
10:07 AM - Jun 13, 2012

The Shared Decision Center
The Annual Physical…What’s Routine?
by DRKUSSIN on NOVEMBER 27, 2012
(...)
When you go to Midas, you’ll get a muffler.
When you are well and go for an annual exam you’ll get tests.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, March 12, 2013 • Permalink